Ten Classic Films About Nothing

by Andrew Osborne

The plot of this week’s big ticket premiere, Super 8, has been a closely guarded secret…but it seems to have something to do with strange disappearances and a mysterious force unleashed by a disastrous train crash.

Meanwhile, in The Trip (also opening this week), two middle aged British actors (Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan) banter over gourmet cuisine, do some Michael Caine impressions and…well, that’s about it, really. And yet, despite a near total lack of plot, drama, character arcs or three-act structure, the film (featuring re-edited footage from a BAFTA-winning 2010 BBC-2 sitcom about a restaurant tour of Northern England) is a cinematic meal at least as satisfying for Nerve’s cultural omnivores as more traditional meat and potatoes summer fare like Super 8.

Reminiscent of Jerry Seinfeld’s beloved show about “nothing,” the key to The Trip’s appeal lies in its relatable portrayal of the mundanities of life. Like most of us (but funnier), Coogan and Brydon aren’t saving the world or grappling with earth-shaking drama on a daily basis. Instead, they’re just bumbling along, bantering and griping and doing their best to get by in a way that feels reassuringly familiar.

And so, in the midst of all the bombastic, death-defying mutants, pirates, wizards, cowboys and aliens of summer, we here at Nerve would like to salute The Trip by listing (in no particular order, appropriately enough) our favorite films where, to quote David Byrne’s description of heaven, nothing ever happens.

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