Reprising their roles from “The Trip,” “The Trip to Italy”, “The Trip to Spain,” we now have the fourth installment of “The Trip” movie series with “The Trip to Greece,” starring comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon and directed by Michael Winterbottom. The film continues the acrimoniously wit and spirit found in the previous films. Each film we see Coogan and Brydon dine, travel through the countryside, and exchange razor-sharp banter as they improvise their favorite actors from their favorite movies.
Right now during the pandemic we can use as much laughter as possible, and this recent entry by Winterbottom is perfect timing–especially for fans of the previous films. Coogan and Brydon continue their synergy by playing altered versions of themselves. By cleverly riffing on Homer’s “Odyssey,” Winterbottom plays on the Odysseus’s travel from Troy to Ithaca. It comparatively is a clever homage as Coogan and Brydon venture from Turkey though Macedonia all the way to Greece. Both men continue retaining a unique and hysterical friendship that consists of dining superb foods, swimming and enjoying other leisure things in life. Watching the film you tend to feel as if you are on a relaxing vacation yourself.
The film plays on the same structure and methods as the previous “Trip films”, like both characters wind in the countryside. Both men impersonate popular celebrities such as Dustin Hoffman, Anthony Hopkins and even Werner Herzog in the most comical bit. Coogan and Brydon also debate and bicker on along their rendezvous. The story is duplicate to the others. A modern British version of “The Odd Couple”, this film like the others as the structure is divided into six different sketches. Yet out of all the “Trip” films, this one feels the most human and poignant.
It’s also one of the most beautifully shot looking film out of “The Trip” films with Winterbottom’s preferred mockumentary style that feels more meticulous in framing and more visually pleasing than before. Throughout the course of the film we get to see ravishing landscapes and get hungry as they eat delicious looking cousins as they hold conversations about their lives, contemplating what is important to them and even discovering what they want in their acting careers. We see major landmarks ranging from Delphi to Athens, the Caves of Diros, to Ancient Stagiria among much more.
This film always retains a charm while feeling more wise and bittersweet, they discuss unforgiving crimes of the Nazi’s as well as the disgraceful leadership of Donald Trump and Boris Johnson. They also discuss Coogan’s role as Stan Laurel in the endearing “Stan and Ollie,” and Coogan hilariously rationalizes a harsh review that dismisses the content of his character, yet points out that the review still praises his acting skills.
There is also some human moments as well, including Coogan receiving a phone call from his son about the sickness of his father, which only regresses each day while on his vacation. The moment ends on a very melancholic note as beautiful images play on with Max Richter’s “On the Nate of the Day” plays on. “The Trip to Greece” has to be the farewell in the series as it should be, at first I was rolling my eyes as the thought of another film in this series, yet it continues to win you over with more heart and grace. The film surprisingly gets philosophical as it ponders morality, what defines friendship and the virtue of life.
As usual, the finale delivers a delicate mixture of light-heartiness and earned pathos, as Brydon’s wife, Sally (Rebecca Johnson), arrives to him once Coogan must excuse himself from the trip to attend to his father. Coogan’s performance is the most bittersweet of the entire series, and the films shift it tones works since it is grounded in realism. Once the last reel ends, you feel as if you you wanted more, and you feel almost shattered since you have spent 10 years between these characters now fade away. The material is indeed episodic and certainly hits a lot of the same notes as before. Even so, the film still generates great belly laughs, rich characterizations, and the chemistry between Coogan and Brydon is irresistible as always. This has been a trip worth taking.