Friends Coogan And Brydon Take Their Dueling Impressions On A 'Trip To Spain'

Aug 10, 2017
Originally published on August 11, 2017 9:23 pm

When Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon's dueling Michael Caine impressions went viral during the first season of their food-tasting TV series, The Trip, it was more or less inevitable that the show's 6.5 hours of eating scallops and celeb impersonations would be edited down into movie form. Ditto with the second season's trip to Italy, which had them eating pasta and doing dueling Al Pacinos and Robert De Niros.

With most movie sequels, I'm done after a second helping, but they're now serving up the third season, The Trip to Spain, and yeah, sure, I'll take thirds. As with the first two films, a phone call sets things in motion. Coogan calls Brydon with an invitation that arrives at an opportune moment: Brydon looks across the room at his wife and screaming baby, who is letting out a 10-second wail, and before you can say "Spanish omelet" they're off to the land of Don Quixote to tilt at wind turbines and chat over chorizo about whatever pops into their heads. (Remembering a party, say, where Mick Jagger did a Michael Caine impression of his own.)

Brydon swings easily from Jagger doing Caine badly to himself doing Caine splendidly, as Coogan chimes in with Jagger being Jagger — all of which leads them to wonder at the fact that Jagger has recently fathered a child at 72.

Age is much on their minds this trip: They've both just turned 50, which they're determined to see as the prime of life. (Brydon notes it's about the age Miguel de Cervantes was when he wrote Don Quixote.) But they worry (in the voice of John Hurt, mind you) that they'll soon feel as ancient as the dinosaur tracks they find on their travels.

The point of the trip, though, is Spanish cuisine, which we see sizzling in the kitchen and served with food-porn panache by folks whose fractured English provides the stars with food for improvisation.

As with the previous movies, director Michael Winterbottom has encouraged Coogan and Brydon (who are friends in real life) to improvise exaggerated versions of themselves — Brydon a goofy Sancho Panza and Coogan a snooty Don Quixote. Their travels take them through breathtaking Iberian deserts, gorgeous seacoast villages and the castle where Marlon Brando played Grand Inquisitor Tomás de Torquemada, sending them on a riff in which it becomes clear that, come the next Spanish Inquisition, Coogan will be asking the questions.

Brydon needles and Coogan remains oblivious (and slightly melancholy) in The Trip to Spain, as audiences are treated to a week-long conversation in which no narrative needle is ever left unthreaded. Talk of tilting at windmills à la Don Quixote leads to singing a familiar song with lyrics about "the circles that you find in the windmills of your mind," which leads to the observation that the song's original singer, Noel Harrison, was the son of Rex Harrison, who sang — wait for it — "The Rain In Spain." Circles within circles.

I would follow these guys on a trip to anywhere.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

In the comedy "The Trip," Actors Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon went on a restaurant-reviewing tour of Britain, eating scallops and doing Michael Caine impressions. The movie was successful enough that in their follow-up, "The Trip To Italy," they ate pasta and did dueling Al Pacinos.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

That movie did even better. So why mess with a winning formula? Coogan and Brydon are now heading out on a trip to Spain. Critic Bob Mondello says with most movie sequels, he's done after a second helping. But with a dish this tasty, he'll go for thirds.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: The phone call from Steve Coogan comes at an opportune moment.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE TRIP TO SPAIN")

STEVE COOGAN: (As Steve) I'm asking you if you'll come with me.

MONDELLO: Rob Brydon looks across the room at his wife and new baby.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE TRIP TO SPAIN")

ROB BRYDON: (As Rob) Yes, I will come.

MONDELLO: And before you can say Spanish omelet, they are off to the land of Don Quixote to tilt at wind turbines and chat over chorizo about whatever pops into their heads - Mick Jagger, for instance.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE TRIP TO SPAIN")

BRYDON: (As Rob) I was leaving.

COOGAN: (As Steve) Yeah.

BRYDON: (As Rob) And I heard from the balcony...

COOGAN: (As Steve) Yeah.

BRYDON: (As Rob) Rob, Rob...

COOGAN: (As Steve) Rob...

BRYDON: (As Rob) Rob...

COOGAN: (As Steve) Hey, Rob, Rob...

BRYDON: (As Rob) And I looked up, and he went, don't throw those bloody spears at me. I said, what? He goes, don't throw those bloody spears at me.

COOGAN: (As Steve) Yeah, no, no...

BRYDON: (As Rob) He was doing Michael Caine.

COOGAN: (As Steve) No, I know. What you find is...

MONDELLO: Coogan can't resist doing his own Mick Jagger.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE TRIP TO SPAIN")

COOGAN: (As Steve) Sort of - it's actually quiet (unintelligible). And sometimes he's quite actually, like, sort of public school thing.

BRYDON: (As Rob) He went, don't throw those bloody spears at me. And I went, oh, Michael Caine.

COOGAN: (As Steve) Yeah, yeah.

BRYDON: (As Rob) So I looked up at him, and I said, I've told you before. If you're not going to sing, I don't want to bloody know. Now get back in the other room. And he went (laughter), and off he went. He loved it. But...

COOGAN: (As Steve) Had...

BRYDON: (As Rob) ...Had I had a close conversation with him, I would have said, what are you doing having a child at 72?

MONDELLO: Age is much on their minds this trip. They've both just turned 50, which makes them worry they'll soon feel as ancient as the dinosaur tracks they find in their travels.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE TRIP TO SPAIN")

BRYDON: (As Rob) The brontosaurus, which would previously roam the lands.

COOGAN: (As Steve) Who's that?

BRYDON: (As Rob) It's John Hurt.

COOGAN: (As Steve) That's not John Hurt.

BRYDON: (As Rob) Who is it, then?

COOGAN: (As Steve) Well, I don't know. But if you're going to do John Hurt, you have to - the Brachiosaurus once roamed the land, the king of all he surveyed.

BRYDON: (As Rob) That's a very good John Hurt.

MONDELLO: The point of this trip, though, is Spanish cuisine, which we see sizzling in the kitchen and served with food porn panache.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE TRIP TO SPAIN")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: (As character) We have Iberian pork meat from Salamanca. And Victor (ph) makes the chorizo like his grandmother.

COOGAN: (As Steve, speaking Spanish).

BRYDON: (As Rob) When she said he makes chorizo like his grandmother, is that what she looked like? Because I'm picturing a grizzled, old woman with the external appearance of chorizo.

COOGAN: (As Steve) Well, you're the only person who is, mate.

BRYDON: (As Rob) Fantastic.

COOGAN: (As Steve) Wow.

BRYDON: (As Rob) Tell you what - if his grandmother tasted like this, I'd have a nibble.

MONDELLO: As with the previous movies, director Michael Winterbottom has whittled "The Trip To Spain" down from six half-hours of British television. Coogan and Brydon, friends in real life, are improvising exaggerated versions of themselves, Brydon a goofy Sancho Panza to Coogan's snooty Don Quixote.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE TRIP TO SPAIN")

BRYDON: (As Rob) Just don't do Shakespeare. Come on.

COOGAN: (As Steve) Oh.

BRYDON: (As Rob) Oh.

COOGAN: (As Steve) That this too, too-solid flesh would melt...

MONDELLO: Their travels take them through breathtaking Iberian deserts, gorgeous sea coast villages. And at one point, they stay in a castle where Brando played Grand Inquisitor. In a darkened room, it becomes clear that come the next Spanish Inquisition, Coogan will be asking the questions.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE TRIP TO SPAIN")

BRYDON: (As Rob) Almost fanatical devotion...

COOGAN: (As Steve) You're doing him in "The Godfather." You're just doing Marlon Brando...

BRYDON: (As Rob) I'm just doing '70s Brando.

COOGAN: (As Steve) His voice was a little higher the way he spoke. It was like that, you know? When he spoke...

BRYDON: (As Rob) You've got a De Niro thing going. You're doing your De Niro.

COOGAN: (As Steve) If I was doing De Niro, I'd do it like that, you know? That's the way - that's the way De Niro spoke, you know? The reason you think I'm doing De Niro when I'm doing Brando is because De Niro himself was influenced by Brando.

BRYDON: (As Rob) So in attempting to criticize you, I've inadvertently complimented you.

COOGAN: (As Steve) You've shown that some of the detail in....

BRYDON: (As Rob) You've certainly come out on top in this exchange, then.

MONDELLO: Brydon needles, Coogan remains oblivious and slightly melancholy, and audiences enjoy a week-long conversation in which no narrative needle is ever left unthreaded. As when talk of tilting at windmills leads to...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE TRIP TO SPAIN")

STEVE COOGAN AND ROB BRYDON: (As Steve and Rob, singing) The circles that you find in the windmills of your mind.

BRYDON: (As Rob) You know who sang that?

COOGAN: (As Steve) Dusty Springfield?

BRYDON: (As Rob) Noel Harrison. He's the famous one. Son of...

COOGAN: (As Steve) George?

BRYDON: (As Rob) Rex Harrison.

COOGAN: (As Steve) Really?

BRYDON: (As Rob) Who sang "The Rain In Spain." Circles within circles.

COOGAN: (As Steve) Yeah.

MONDELLO: I would follow these guys on a trip to anywhere. I'm Bob Mondello.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WINDMILLS OF YOUR MIND")

UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Singing) Like the circles that you find in the windmills of your mind. Keys that jingle in your pocket, words that jangle in your head. Why did summer go so quickly? Was it something that you said? Lovers walk along a shore... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.