Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan return to the big screen with a follow-up of The Trip to Italy (2014), in The Trip to Spain, appearing as caricatured versions of themselves embarking on a culinary and cultural tour of the titular country.
The Trip to Spain follows the same format as The Trip to Italy, with scenes of the two comedians travelling through picturesque landscapes, interspersed with musings between the two which frequently degenerate into improvised celebrity-impression-offs. Live shots of working restaurant kitchens and busy European streets act as calming transition shots between scenes and contribute to the documentary feel despite the fictionalised storylines.
Unlike the previous instalment, The Trip to Spain shies away from gastronomic sights, but fortunately the main draw has always been the comic freestyling between Coogan and Brydon. Fans of either actor will enjoy the caricatures built off of common perceptions of the two: Brydon as the chippy, down-to earth, Welsh family man; and Hollywood Coogan whose surly, smarmy persona slips further into midlife crisis the more the film goes on.
How close either persona is to real life is up for debate, but there’s clearly some self-awareness in the writing, which lends itself to the film’s target audience. Younger viewers may not have the patience for the leisurely pace of the film or some of the more dated impressions, and the naturalistic dialogue resonates with a more middle-aged, middle-class audience.
The film also peers into the personal lives of the characters with much more scrutiny than its predecessor. Brydon is slightly underwhelmed at married life while Coogan struggles to balance a faltering career trajectory and a long-distance relationship with a younger woman when his son drops a bombshell via video chat.
Overall the film is enjoyable and calming in the way culinary odyssey journeys often are—if a little slow. New ground isn’t exactly broken from the The Trip to Italy, but fans of the personalities will enjoy the film. The slightly off-kilter ending of The Trip to Spain was slightly confusing and casts doubt about a follow up, but the film is amusing during spouts of tit for tat banter between the pair and spot-on celebrity impressions.