Directed by: Michael Winterbottom. I can safely call myself a fan of this team, despite having only seen a pretty small handful of their films. Director Michael Winterbottom, producer Andrew Eaton, and screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce are like the more highbrow, less popular, more subtle identical cousins of that other influential British 40-something filmmaking team of Danny Boyle/Andrew MacDonald/John Hodge. I really enjoyed the fly-on-the-wall, postmodern comedy/ documentary/ drama approach of 24 Hour Party People and Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story. (I also enjoyed Code 46—a sci-fi noir drama with Timothy Hutton and Samantha Morton, but it doesn’t seem to have a lot in common with these kinds of comedies, at least from my memory.) What those comedies really did for me was to introduce me to Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, or at least their filmic equivalents, “Steve Coogan” and “Rob Brydon.” I don’t know how much reality is in there and I don’t care, they’re just fun to watch. What was curious about this film (apparently a British TV series edited into an arthouse comedy film for America—does that happen?) was how relatively dark and sad it was compared to Tristram Shandy. I liked that movie’s playing with Rob and Steve’s dynamic and I expected a pretty deeply developed buddy road trip movie, but this is definitely not that. I’m happy with what I got—don’t get me wrong—but I’m not sure if it’s even really a comedy. Of course, there are laughs in this movie, some really great belly laughs as well as the more sublime, situational, contextual, dare I say philosophical laughs. The first layer—Rob being an idiot and playing on Steve’s uptight character—interacts with and reveals the underlying layer of Steve’s incredible vulnerability and unhappiness compared to Rob’s relative contentment. What you’re left with is ultimately a really sad story about a really sad man. Come to think of it, this might just be an example of an actually brilliant comedy.