When Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon, and director Michael Winterbottom determined to make a sequel to their fashionable buddy-comedy travelogue The Journey, all concerned apparently assumed that somewhat self-aware Scream 2 lampshading was needed. Sequels are by no means pretty much as good as the unique, the British funnymen joked early into The Journey To Italy, a sequel that turned out to be (shock!) inferior to the unique. Now the three have reunited as soon as extra for The Journey To Spain, and proper on cue, Coogan and Brydon are awkwardly slipping discuss of trilogies into their improvised banter. Factor is, this third film performs much less like some bookend chapter of a whole saga than a floundering center season of a tv present that’s settled right into a formulaic groove—which is smart, given that every Journey is definitely a condensed model of an episodic miniseries that aired on British tv first. It might have been extra applicable, in different phrases, for these bickering fiftysomething vacationers to make wink-wink references to a sitcom that’s overstayed its welcome.
For those who’ve seen both of the opposite motion pictures, you’ve seen The Journey To Spain, whose variations are minor sufficient to be referred to as negligible. As soon as once more, Coogan and Brydon—or fairly, fictionalized variations of the actual males taking part in them—embark on a week-long restaurant tour by means of a scenic European nation. (Not that it remotely issues, however it’s Coogan this time who’s been commissioned to play journey author, inviting Brydon alongside for the trip.) Over extravagant gourmand feasts, the 2 passive-aggressively snipe at one another’s egos and carry out hit-or-miss impressions (sure, Michael Caine will get parroted once more—they’ve sucked each final giggle out of the bit, sadly), whereas Winterbottom dutifully cuts away to footage of cooks making ready the delectable meals. Between these saggy scenes of ad-libbed antagonism, the 2 actors grapple with perfunctory private points, answering the occasional severe cellphone name. Emma (Claire Keelan), the photographer Coogan slept with within the authentic, additionally makes a 3rd look, although the character has even much less to do than traditional; principally, she’s round simply to chuckle on the guys’ dinner-theater pissing contests.
That is, admittedly, the best-wanting of the Journey franchise, with rookie cinematographer James Clarke actually reveling within the pure and artifical great thing about Spain’s Lake District and providing good-looking overhead photographs of the fellows cruising by means of splendiferous stretches of countryside. (If these motion pictures have all the time been conceived as parodies of celebrity-hosted journey porn, they’ve come closest right here to approximating the virtues of the actual deal.) From the beginning, this unlikely collection has not so secretly meditated on the getting older course of, touchdown notes of melancholy alongside the shaggy conversational humor. Sadly, the characters’ fatigue appears to have seeped into the artistic course of; making us suspect that Coogan and Brydon are as bored and uninterested in this as “Coogan” and “Brydon” are isn’t the best meta route for the franchise to take.
There’s a good operating gag about Coogan consistently slipping the success of his Oscar-nominated Philomena into dialog, and a humorous little bit of the 2 stars providing dueling David Bowies. (The scene pivots from a sobering dialogue of mortality to a bragging anecdote about being adopted by the late rock star on Twitter—a microcosm for this complete collection, actually.) Largely, although, Coogan and Brydon simply recycle shtick, right down to the targets of their impersonations. Watching The Journey To Spain, one realizes that the connection between the 2 characters hasn’t advanced in any respect; it’s the identical aggressive fraternal bond, with solely the precise backdrops altering from film to film. What nobody says aloud, throughout that temporary dialogue initially, is that precise trilogies are likely to possess some type of arc, some route for the characters. The Journey collection is a highway to nowhere; “I’ll see you… abroad,” Brydon lampshades once more on the finish, all however acknowledging that they’ll be again to do that all once more, simply over completely different plates of meals and in opposition to completely different geographies. The perfect one can hope for, maybe, is a few round movement for the humor. Will that rattling Caine impression have moved again round to humorous once more by the point the fellows set out on their inevitable journey to France?