Here's a tip for moviegoers who plan on seeing "The Trip," Michael Winterbottom's mock-documentary about two English comedians, TV and radio mostly, who take a trip to the far misty north, land of the lake poets, of Coleridge and Wordsworth, and vie for who can be more obnoxious as they tour the nouveau chic boutique gourmet restaurants that have sprung up in remore parts of Humber and Yorkshire, once famous for its diet of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.
You will learn at least two things about England. The first is that English comics set store by how accurate an impression they can give of Michael Caine's speech pattern. The fellows, Steve Coogan and Rob Bryden, do Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Hugh Grant, Anthony Hopkins, Ruchard Burton, and Liam Neeson. But Caine is the litmus test, the ne plus ultra for competitive comic impersonation. The guys are not as convincing when they try to sound like Al Pacino and Woody Allen, though Allen's lines are hilarious and brilliant however delivered.
It made me wonder what the equivalent would be for an American actor (male): Bogart in "Casablanca"? Jimmy Cagney ("You dirty rat")? Brando in "On the Waterfront" or "The Godfather"? Clint Eastwood ("Make my day")? JFK?
The second thing you will learn from the movie is that for a true Brit (who, "in spite of all temptations / to belong to other nations," remains a bloody proud Englishman), nothing -- not duck confit, pigeon, rabbit, lamb, clams cooked in their own juices, and not, certainly not, thirteen ways of serving scallops -- can compete with a traditional English breakfast of eggs, bacon, blood pudding, grilled tomatoes, baked beans, toast, tea, the whole works. The boys have such a meal at a country pub and it is the one they most lustily enjoy.
A second film with the identical title, "The Trip" (1969), features Peter Fonda in his acid-trip phase. It's well-worth watching. I saw it when it came out, the summer after my junior year at Columbia. I'd like to see it again. It has Bruce Dern and Susan Strasberg and Jack Nicholson, and the poster for the pic highlights the letters l, s, and d and boasts of being shot in "psychedelic color." I vaguely recall a mad scene in a laundromat. And there was an extraordinary effort to depict the highs and lows of an acid trip, from rank sentimentality to ecstatic exuberance to fetal-position fear. I saw it in Manchester, England. And Manchester is, as the new "Trip" confirms, the urban epitome of the north of England. -- DL