The four films in Michael Winterbottom’s The Trip series have mostly focused on Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon traversing the countries of Europe, eating beautifully prepared meals and making each other laugh through various impressions and bits. But throughout these films, Winterbottom would show that no matter how great of a time these two had together, there was a certain amount of loneliness that would creep up at night when Coogan and Brydon were on their own. Sometimes, they would find someone to engage in a one-night-stand with, or maybe they’d call home and talk to the loved ones they left behind in order to take another one of these trips. Even during the day, Brydon and Coogan’s jokes would often circle around what their legacies would be and how they would eulogize each other when the inevitable occurred. Despite the great humor that made The Trip films one of the funniest series of the last decade, melancholy always loomed heavily over Coogan and Brydon.
The Trip to Greece begins with a conclusion of these good times, as Coogan and Brydon have the first meal of their (supposedly) final trip together. Their six day trip through Greece actually begins in Turkey, as the duo attempt to retrace the story of The Odyssey. “We’ve been on this odyssey for ten years,” Brydon says early on, almost as if he’s toasting goodbye to his comedic partner of this quadrilogy. From the very start, The Trip to Greece stands apart from the other films by embracing that melancholy, addressing what has been unspoken for this past decade and having these two directly face both their fear of death and what the legacy they leave behind might be.
Yet The Trip to Greece – as one would expect from this series – is consistently hilarious, as Coogan and Brydon break down the music of The Bee Gees, have a conversation between Stan Laurel and Tom Hardy, and recreate sequences from Marathon Man in Marathon. As Coogan says in discussing telling a similar story for a second time, “It’s inevitable to repeat yourself…originality is overrated.” When the banter between these two men is this good, it doesn’t really matter that many of these ideas have been done before in previous films; it’s still a joy to watch them play off each other in this way.
While the jokes and food have been lovely, it’s the small acts of kindness and care for each other that makes this final installment special in a completely new way. During their trips together, Coogan and Brydon have noticeably avoided the topics of their families and home life. In The Trip to Greece, this changes in just a few scenes, but the love these two have for each other shines through in these moments. Throughout The Trip installments, Winterbottom has struggled with ways to add depth to the sparest of narratives through the slightest character development. At first, it was through affairs for each of these characters, but with The Trip to Spain, the family became a much more integral part of who these two are. By The Trip to Greece, Winterbottom finally nailed just the right amount of frivolous fun with tender, moving moments between friends.
If these journeys have to end, The Trip to Greece is just the right way to say bon voyage to these characters. However, four films in, the charm has only grown in this series. Odysseus’ journey might’ve been a decade, but hopefully Brydon and Coogan’s will go on for even longer.
The Trip to Greece is available on your preferred VOD platform.
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