June 8 (Bloomberg) -- I’ll never be able to watch Michael Caine again without thinking of “The Trip,” a mockumentary in which British comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon do sidesplitting imitations of various movie legends.
Their mimicry is the highlight of this largely improvised road picture about two bickering buddies (Coogan and Brydon play slightly exaggerated versions of themselves) touring England’s scenic Lake District and Yorkshire Dales.
Playboy Steve has a newspaper assignment to write about the area’s finer inns and restaurants, and he invites married Rob along after being turned down by his American girlfriend.
“The Trip” basically consists of the pair driving from place to place and eating gourmet meals while riffing about everything from receding gums and the Oscars to Wordsworth and Coleridge, who both lived in the Lake District.
The film, directed by Michael Winterbottom, is an adaptation of a six-part BBC television series. Winterbottom previously directed Coogan and Brydon in “Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story” and “24 Hour Party People,” and their rapport help gives the movie its casual, off-the-cuff appeal.
While it’s mostly a comedy, “The Trip” has several touching scenes, including a visit to Steve’s elderly parents in Manchester and a phone conversation between Steve and his son from a now-defunct marriage.
But what you’ll remember most are the imitations, especially Brydon’s Al Pacino and their dueling versions of Caine, Sean Connery and Woody Allen.
“Whaddayagot?” Brydon asks in his manic Pacino sendup.
In this case, a comedy classic.
“The Trip,” from IFC Films, opens Friday in New York and Los Angeles. Rating: ***1/2
‘One Lucky Elephant’
As a circus elephant, Flora delighted audiences by using her trunk to pack a suitcase. But when her owner decided to retire her from performing, finding her another place to live proved even trickier.
Circus producer David Balding’s search for Flora’s new home and his heart-wrenching separation from the orphaned African pachyderm he nurtured for 16 years is the subject of the stirring documentary “One Lucky Elephant.”
Filmed over 10 years, the movie follows Balding as he tries to find a suitable habitat for Flora where she can mingle with other elephants. After a temporary stay at Miami Metro Zoo, she ends up at The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee.
Flora displays aggressive behavior at the sanctuary, which co-founder Carol Buckley attributes to post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from the animal’s separation from her mother as a youngster.
She thinks Balding’s occasional visits from his Missouri farm are interfering with Flora’s recovery, so she bars him from seeing her. This leads to a series of phone calls in which Balding practically begs to see his beloved 10,000-pound “daughter.”
Filmmakers Lisa Leeman and Cristina Colissimo don’t try to turn the story into a good versus evil saga. They realize that both Balding and Buckley have Flora’s best interests at heart. They just have different opinions on how to make her happy.
The film is really a love story between a man and an elephant, one that has more genuine emotion than most Hollywood-manufactured romances.
“One Lucky Elephant,” from Film Forum, opens today in New York and June 24 in Los Angeles. Rating: ***
What the Stars Mean: **** Excellent *** Good ** Average * Poor (No stars) Worthless
(Rick Warner is the movie critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)
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