The success of any road trip is determined not so much by the time it takes to get to one's destination, but how well we survive the journey; a journey made all the quicker - or longer - by the company we choose to keep.
On paper, The Trip promised to be a long haul rather than a Sunday afternoon drive of a film for me. With two leads - Brit comedic talents Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon - whose work I am only familiar with in passing, and a 107-minute running time (thankfully whittled down from its original 172 minute television format), there seemed to be little of interest here for me. How wrong I was.
Coogan and Brydon play alternate version of themselves - Coogan, the TV comedian coveting success in America as a serious actor, and Brydon, the happily married new father with a very rewarding career in the UK as an impersonator - who take to the road on a newspaper-funded food tour of the north of England: six restaurants in six days.
Originally planning to take the trip with his American girlfriend, Mischa (Margo Stilley), who has returned to the US to pursue her writing career, Coogan invites Brydon along for what becomes a comedic and culinary caper; the two enjoying MasterChef-like creations amidst the hills and dales of the northern countryside whilst trying to best each other with their impersonations of Michael Caine, Hugh Grant, Sean Connery, Roger Moore and Billy Connelly.
Michael Winterbottom, the genre-hopping Brit director and one not known for his comedic output, probably felt a lighter mood was required after his intensely dark pulp noir adaptation, The Killer Inside Me (2010). And reuniting the stars of his Tristram Shandy (perhaps the only other Winterbottom comedy) no doubt seemed like a good means for achieving such a tone.
And it is indeed good fun: Brydon does a spot-on Hugh Grant, and Coogan's Billy Connelly is priceless. And they both do an excellent Michael Caine, although by about the fifth such sequence of "She was only 16 years old" and "You blew the bloody doors off!", I was over that one.
The Trip may not escape its television origins, and it may prove a far more fulfilling journey to catch all 172 minutes of it on DVD, but for the most part it's an enjoyable cross-country jaunt.