Who doesn’t love a road trip? One hand on the wheel, a heavy foot on the gas, adventure around every turn and miles of open road unfolding before you; it’s one of life’s great pleasures. But perhaps no road trip is quite as enjoyable as one taken with people who make you laugh and, thanks to two brilliant British comedians, that is the sheer joy of watching The Trip.

Originally broadcast in the UK as a six-part sitcom series, The Trip reunites director Michael Winterbottom with stars Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. The trio previous collaborated on Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, where the actors played similarly inflated versions of their public personas. Coogan is once again the narcissistic, hedonistic, lady-charming but lonely comedian unable to escape his most famous role, Alan Partridge, or break out as a true superstar; while Brydon is a happily settled-down family man with the ability to impersonate almost anyone, a feat which is winning him enough acclaim to start eclipsing Coogan.

The film begins with Coogan inviting Brydon to accompany him on a road trip through Northern England’s lake country to experience some of the best fine dining the area has to offer. (English fine dining? See, it’s funny already.) From there, Winterbottom sweeps the audience along as silent passengers, watching as the pair bicker and bond against the backdrop of emerald green countryside or over a plate of impeccably prepared haute cuisine. There’s little plot to follow, simply the pleasure of watching two great actors carry the viewer from moments of hilarity to quiet bittersweet humanity.  

Feeling at times like a hilarious, hyper-intimate version of Jon Favreau’s series, “Dinner for Five,” each meal grounds the film, offering glorious glimpses of food porn but also forcing the actors, who largely improvised The Trip, to settle in for a mano y mano that brings out some of the film’s best comedic moments as they attempt to one-up each other, most notably in a brilliant battle of Michael Caine impressions (Brydon’s is so diabolically spot-on, so as he says, “stunningly accurate,” with your eyes closed, you could be watching Alfie or The Dark Knight).

Considering Winterbottom’s most recent effort was the highly controversial Sundance offering, The Killer Inside Me, it’s lovely to see the director, whose work has ranged from 24 Hour Party People to Welcome to Sarajevo, offering up a film that’s smart, funny and unhurried.

Now, that’s a good trip.

Grade: A-

The Trip releases in select theaters June 10.