British comic Steve Coogan has played many characters including clueless talk show host Alan Partridge, an ego-maniacal movie director in Tropic Thunder, guileless and clueless high school theater teacher in Hamlet II, and a smarmy bad guy in last summer’s The Other Guys. He’s also played a character named Steve Coogan in Michael Winterbottom’s brilliant movie within a movie conceit Tristram Shandy. In that, Steve Coogan is a version of himself at once charming, ego-maniacal, clueless, and often unsympathetic, while he worries about his role in the adaptation of Tristram Shandy while trading competing barbs with his co-star, Rob Brydon.
The Trip, Steve Coogan again plays a version of actor Steve Coogan in the same vein, again trading barbs with his co-star, Rob Brydon. This time, instead of a movie within a movie, the conceit has Steve accepting an assignment from the British magazine The Observer to drive around the Northern England countryside, stay at various inns, eat at restaurants, and report the experience.
But you don’t have to know all this meta backstory to enjoy The Trip. After Steve and Rob set off from London in Steve’s Land Rover the movie clicks into a comfortable pastiche of road movie and buddy picture, splashed with the essence of mid-life/mid-career crisis.
In Tristram Shandy the pair’s relationship seemed predicated more on their careers, of which Steve’s was more successful. This makes sense because Tristram Shandy was, among other things, a movie about work; the tasks involved in making a movie. Here, out in the country, Steve seems jealous of Rob’s comfortable if mid-level career. A telling moment has Steve unsuccessfully recreating in front of a motel room mirror Rob’s Small Man in a Box bit, which is apparently quite popular and which Rob is happy to perform for a museum curator in return for letting them enter after hours.
Theater location: Landmark Theater, Kendall Square, Cambridge, Saturday, June 18th, 4:15 pm. Price: 10.00. Viewed with Liz! Snack: cashews, Diet Coke with Lime.
|Landmark Theater, Kendall Square, Cambridge|
The Topp Twins, Untouchable Girls. The trailers were full of documentaries. Talk about cheap, fast, and out of control. Let's start with this true tale of sisters who perform together as a singing comedy duo. And then, one of them gets cancer. Funny and sad at the same time.
Conan O'Brien Can't Stop. Cameras follow Conan O'Brien as he toured the country last summer, showcasing his experiences between getting kicked off The Tonight Show to starting his own show on TNT. This one looks good. So good in fact that we're seeing tomorrow. Review forthcoming.
Tabloid. Documentary by Errol Morris about a legendary scandal in Britain about the true-life story of Joyce McKinney. "She was a beauty queen, a hot little number, and she fell in love with a guy. She made the mistake of falling for a Mormon, though, and his family and his community sent him overseas on a mission to get away from her. She followed him. Things got weird. That's all you need to know."
Buck. A doc about the real Horse Whisperer as portrayed in that Robert Redford movie. It's a tear jerker, where the way a horse acts tells more about the owner than the horse. This movie looks pretty emotionally compelling.
Pianomania. About the crazy dudes who the tune pianos of the worlds greatest pianists. Seriously.