In The Trip, culled from a British TV miniseries, comedian Steve Coogan, ostensibly playing himself, is sent by a newspaper to tour England's finest restaurants, accompanied by his friend and fellow comic Rob Brydon. The two stars improvise inventively over one meal after another; the high point is their competition to produce the most accurate impersonation of actor Michael Caine. The movie is both highly enjoyable and very sweet.
It's also, surprisingly, quite touching. Steve and his girlfriend Mischa (Margo Stilley) are taking a break; she's in America, and their cellphone exchanges are awkward and unsatisfying, as is his conversation with his teenage son, who's careful not to show his feelings. Rob has a wife and a baby he can't wait to return to; Steve still thinks of himself as a free spirit but is aware that he's getting too old for the part. His loneliness is palpable, especially when the director, Michael Winterbottom, frames him against the vast English countryside. The film is alternately uproarious and melancholy.
A. M. Stroud III, a former prosecutor in Louisiana, expresses regret for the role he played in sending Glenn Ford to death row in 1984. “I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning.” Stroud says he presented dubious evidence from a forensic pathologist, precluded black jurors from the trial (Ford, since exonerated, is black), and ignored the fact that the appointed defense attorney had never before tried a criminal or capital case. “I . . . hope that providence will have more mercy for me than I showed Glenn Ford,” Stroud said in a letter to the editor of the Times of Shreveport. “But, I’m also sobered by the realization that I certainly am not deserving of it” (ABA Journal, March 25).