Moore should be less.


“The Trip to Spain” is the third in the series of ‘culinery travelogue’ TV programmes by Steve Coogan (“Philomena“) and Rob Brydon (“Gavin and Stacey”). The pair travel by car through Spain sampling the local delicacies while constantly trying to self-salve their fragile egos and trying to out-do each other with comedy spiel. This is of course not a “documentary” as such, since the pair are playing up to their extreme alter-egos (presumably!) of what people expect them to be like. Actors playing their family, agents, etc. call them at various points on the trip to either pour oil on troubled waters or (more often) add fuel to the fire.

All ashore. The guys arrive in Santander.

The six original half hour TV episodes have been edited down into a feature length journey. And this is part of the problem. Repetition that can be forgiven and forgotten about when you see an episode every week, but can become tiresome when forced on you as a continuous stream.

Brydon drinks; Coogan doesn’t; both impersonate.

In this case the repetitive content delivered by Coogan and Brydon are their (normally very good) impersonations of famous stars (most of which it has to be said are British so won’t resonate with a non-UK audience). Roger Moore in particular gets trotted out INTERMINABLY and while some of it is extremely funny – an exchange between Moore as Bond and Scaramanga had me snorting tea out of my nose – it all gets too much by the end.

Coogan in mid-Jagger.

Appearing to recognise this need for more variety, additional characters from Steve’s team join them for a part of their trip – Emma (Clare Keelan) and Yolanda (Marta Barrio). Unfortunately, the additions are just plain dull: they just sit alongside Coogan and Brydon and laugh at their impressions, adding nothing. Now if they had been a couple of good female impersonators, like Ronni Ancona and Jan Ravens, that could act as a foil to the male duo, THAT would have been entertaining.

Coogan and Brydon strides the local streets.

The film also suffers from “Top Gear Challenge” disease. The problem with filming a car journey through Spain is that you know there are not twenty film crews deployed along the route to do the filming…. all of the cameras are carefully set up in advance with someone on a walkie-talkie saying “OK, Steve – coffee down, we’re ready for you to drive over the hill now”. So something that should feel natural and documentary-like feels 100% the opposite.

Tilting at windmills. Brydon and Coogan as Sancho Panza and Don Quixote.

So… if you like Coogan and Brydon, and especially if you liked their Northern England and Italy “trips”, then you will get more laughs out of this one. But I think the concoction needs to be put through the blender and re-heated before it comes out for a fourth outing.

Fad Rating: FFF.