October 25, 2011

October 25, 2011

In My Opinion: The Trip

Overseas flights are good for several things. (1) They’re one of the best ways to get from here to there, if an ocean exists between here and there. (2) They’re a great time to remind yourself never to have children. (3) They provide an opportunity for serious media consumption. When flying abroad, I take advantage of all three.

Hence my recent viewing of The Trip, starring British comedians (personalities? performers?) Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon playing versions of themselves. The plot is pretty simple: Steve and his girlfriend plan to take a food-focused tour* of the Lake District and write about it for The Observer. Just before the trip, girlfriend decides the relationship needs a break. Steve can’t find any friends to go on the tour with him, so he takes Rob.

Now, I’m an American who knows Steve Coogan as “the other guy from Around the World in 80 Days” and Rob Brydon not at all, so I’m sure I missed a ton of references, in-jokes, and the like. But some things are universal. The buddy road trip. Small-town tourism. The crises of middle age. One-up-man-ship.** When Steve and Rob discuss the career of fellow Brit Michael Sheen with thinly-veiled jealousy over appetizers at a teeny place in Whatevershire, no sound track or special effects are needed to make it a great scene. So much of this film is funny, and poignant, and sad, often all at once.

Plus the backdrop of the breathtaking Lake District, where I’d love to retire.

Plus plus spontaneous quoting of Coleridge, Wordsworth, et al.

Plus plus plus several scenes involving the difficulty of touring places off the beaten track. I could write an entirely separate blog about the hijinks I’ve gotten into trying to tour places that can count their monthly visitors on two hands. I’ve been personally guided through historic homes. I’ve gotten lost in their construction sites. I’ve locked myself out of them. Wandering lonely as a cloud is all well and good until you need a clearly-marked restroom.

* The best kind, innit?
** One-upmanship? One-up-manship? One-upsmanship? This word turns out to be incredibly difficult in written form.

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