The Trip, a hilarious and touching road movie starring the actor-comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon as (slightly) exaggerated versions of their real selves, is like a funnier, flakier, madcap British version of My Dinner With Andre. The conceit is that Coogan, tall and Byronic, with his deceptively sweet egomaniacal shark's grin, gets a magazine assignment to review a dozen outrageously pretentious country restaurants in the chilly north of England. For company, he brings along his friend and colleague, a rubber-faced Welsh-born impressionist (Brydon). The entire movie consists of these two driving, eating, and talking. They do their dueling impersonations of Michael Caine (the funniest scene of the year). They trade quips, insults, poems, and philosophies. They sing wistful snatches of ABBA and Kate Bush.
Directed by Michael Winterbottom, and based on a largely improvised BBC sitcom of the same name, The Trip looks like a lark and is yet there's a sneaky resonance to the way it celebrates what acting means to these two rogue cutups. In this movie, to pretend to be someone you aren't is the best way to reach outside of yourself, to fashion your voice into a kind of explorer, an instrument of empathy. That's never more true than when these two backbiting chums reveal how much they like each other by brilliantly enacting the roles of two people who don't like each other. (Available on demand June 22) A–