Eclectic British director Michael Winterbottom (2002's 24 Hour Party People) rebounds from sexually humiliating Jessica Alba in last year’s flop The Killer Inside Me to humiliating Steve Coogan in all number of ways (this time to positive effect) in this largely improvised comic romp through England’s Lake District. Well, romp might be the wrong descriptive — dubbed a “foodie Sideways” but more plaintive and less formulaic than that sun-dappled California affair, this TV-to-film adaptation displays a characteristic English glumness to surprisingly keen emotional effect. Playing himself, Coogan displays all the carefree joie de vivre of a colonoscopy patient with hemorrhoids as he sloshes through the gray northern landscape trying to get cell reception when not dining on haute cuisine or being wracked with self-doubt over his stalled movie career and love life.
Throw in a happily married, happy-go-lucky frenemy (comic actor Rob Brydon) and Coogan (2008's Tropic Thunder, TV’s I’m Alan Partridge), can’t help but seem like a pathetic middle-aged prick in a puffy coat. Somehow, though, his confused narcissism is a perverse panacea. Come for the dueling Michael Caine impressions (“She was only 16 years old!”) and snot martinis, stay for the scallops and Brydon’s “small man in a box” routine.
May 2, 4 p.m.; May 5, 6:45 p.m.
1881 Post, SF