Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon Reunite for a Final Odyssey in ‘The Trip to Greece’
In the fourth and final installment of “The Trip” series, actors and friends Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, along with director Michael Winterbottom, reunite for road trip comedy “The Trip to Greece.” In the most visually-stunning installment of the series, the pair fall into old habits, enjoying mouthwatering cuisine, outdoing each other with excessive wit, and grappling with the anxieties that come with being middle-aged.
Once again, Coogan and Brydon, have fun playing heightened versions of themselves. In “The Trip to Spain,” Steve was pleased with himself for the critical acclaim he received for “Philomena.” This time, he’s still riding a high from his BAFTA-nominated turn as Stan Laurel in “Stan & Ollie.” He may have not have won that one, but he still has seven BAFTAs under his belt, his proudest achievement, he tells Rob. “For me, it would be my children,” is his friend’s reply. “Yeah, well, ’cause you haven’t got any BAFTAs.”
As self-absorbed and career-obsessed as he comes off as, Steve actually does love his son, Joe (Tim Leach), who calls his dad from back in the UK to let him know that his elderly father has taken a turn for the worst. Now in his twenties, Joe stays with his mother, Katherine (Cordelia Bugeja), while looking after his grandfather. As much as Steve tries to cultivate this image as this unsentimental, somewhat arrogant guy, he’s actually dealing with a lot of emotional turmoil. His true self comes through during lyrical dream sequences.
As for Rob, we find him in a better place than in “Trip to Spain,” as he seems more at peace with his life and with being an older father. Still, he’s not completely secure in his marriage, as we see when he calls home and his little daughter tells him that her mom (Rebecca Johnson) is out at the theater with some unknown person.
But “The Trip” films, at their heart, have always been about friendship, and, once again, the best scenes are the one in which Steve and Rob are just goofing off with each other. Despite the competitiveness in their relationship, it’s really striking how comfortable they are with each other. The pair serve up spot-on impressions of Mick Jagger, Dustin Hoffman, and Ray Winstone in the limited series “Henry VIII.” The latter is especially a treat for the handful of people who understand the reference.
There’s also plenty of history and natural beauty in “The Trip to Greece,” as Steve and Rob go about retracing the journey of Odysseus in Homer’s “Odyssey,” from Turkey through modern Macedonia and Greece. The pair prove that they can do more than just chat and eat in one memorable scene in which they get into the gorgeously refreshing sea to race each other.
All of this leads to an emotional climax in which Steve must return home. Winterbottom, Coogan and Bugeja manage to convey with few words the years of regret between Steve and Catherine. Despite Steve’s past transgressions, there’s obviously still love there. Rob, meanwhile, enjoys the last few days of his vacation with his wife, Sally, and here we see a different side of him.
As was the case with the previous films, “The Trip to Greece” is the trimmed-down version of the 180 minutes, six-episode series that originally aired in the UK. Because of this, the American viewer cannot help but wonder what they missed out on.
“The Trip to Greece” is available May 22 on VOD.