THE TRIP TO SPAIN (6 out of 10) Directed and Written by Michael Winterbottom; Starring Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan, Not Rated, but includes language and adult situations. In limited release,Aug 11, expanding Sept 1.

The end of summer always brings a sort of ennui.

Unless you’ve pulled a total Phineas and Ferb, managing to suck the marrow out of every single day, you’re faced with the regret of things left undone as the days get shorter and shorter into Fall.

The Trip to Spain is the perfect movie for this perfect time of year, as we join Steve Coogan and Rob Bryden for their third semi-autobiographical romp through food and the countryside. And yes, you get your first Michael Caine impression less than fifteen minutes into the runtime.

For fans of the first two films, this is very much the same, with even a wink at the audience at the beginning that sequels, and especially trilogies, never hold up to their original. (I very much liked the first two, including my review of the The Trip to Italy here)

And yet, this brings a fresh and original message as our stars play Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, gallivanting through the countryside trying to pretend they’re not getting older– and how being 50 is a strange concept. While the second trip film largely dealt with Bryden, this third one spends more focus on Coogan, especially his (unspoken) fears that he may have peaked– and also that he is not recognized for his work.

It’s this honesty and rawness that makes this film more than just a string of silly impressions and riffing — although the new territory of Sean Connery, Roger Moore, David Bowie, Mick Jagger, and Marlon Brando impressions are especially fun.

And then there’s the food. Once again, this takes on a special air of high class food porn. Although, some of it is reduced to the most ridiculous levels, as Coogan proclaims his butter is “life-affirming.” You can’t help that these amazing meals are being consumed by the most idiotic, egotistical middle-aged man-children ever to walk the earth. And that’s ultimately why these films work.

However, this chapter ends very strangely and ambiguously. Indeed, it’s almost a cliffhanger. Without an obligatory sequel, it seems strange that this is where they’d end it.

Other than that, the trip is good, even if the final destination isn’t. And perhaps that’s the point of the film, is that reaching a milestone of middle age like 50 is ambiguous and strange. But there’s certainly no better way to do it than surrounded by good friends, good food, and ridiculous impressions.

¡Buen provecho!

3 out of 5 stars

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