Writer/Director: Michael Winterbottom
Starring: Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon, Rosie Fellner, Claire Keelan, Timothy Leach
If someone asked me to drop everything and take a free trip to Italy for a week, I would definitely take them up on that offer. I had an unforgettable trip to this exquisite country back in 2004 and am dying to go back someday. I suppose movies like last year’s The Great Beauty and this one will have to suffice. The Trip to Italy is a sequel to the 2010 indie hit The Trip and is also based on segments from season two of the BBC show of the same name. Steve Coogan (Philomena) and Rob Brydon (Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels) are back for another road trip, but this time they are touring Italy as Rob has been asked to do some restaurant reviews for his paper. There is not much in terms of a heavy plot, but don’t let that deter you. The audience is treated like we are the third passenger on this trip with two dear friends. The focus of their trip is spent on the culinary world of Italy and their love of Romantic poets Percy Shelley and Lord Byron. Coogan and Brydon play semi-fictionalized versions of themselves. The conversation is silly at first as they reconnect. They pop in some Alanis Morissette for nostalgic purposes, and it’s not long before they dive into their numerous celebrity impersonations including Michael Caine, Al Pacino, and Tom Hardy, just to name a few.
The first film is one of those sleeper hits that not many people have seen, but if you mention it, someone may perk up and get excited to hear you’ve seen it as well. This has happened to me a couple of times when I’ve mentioned this movie. This one will have the same affect. I think anyone that saw the first one will no doubt love the follow-up. I must confess that I have not seen the first one yet, even though it has been on my “to-see” list. It’s available through Netflix streaming so I really have no excuse not to watch it now that I’ve seen this one. So was I completely lost? Not really. It will help if you have some general familiarity with either of the two actors. I have never seen Brydon in anything before, which helps play off the fact that there is an underlying theme in the movie that American audiences have no idea who he is. While on the trip, he decides to audition for a Michael Mann film for a role that is completely outside his typical playing field. I am familiar with Coogan enough where I understood the references to his filmography.
Writer and director Michael Winterbottom (24 Hour Party People) is back for this trip as well. He keeps a light and jovial mood throughout the movie as these two old friends reconnect and catch up. If you have ever taken a road trip with friends, you will definitely relate to their back and forth banter. Brydon is that friend of yours that will continue to talk the whole time fearing any moment of silence may dull the trip. He is constantly doing voices and silly impersonations to the point where you wonder why he can’t drop the idea of being “on”. Is he covering up some insecurities or is he just simply excited to be on this little getaway. At one points Coogan states, “You have a moral compass. You just don’t know where it is.” He seems a bit more level headed knowing when and where to join in on Brydon’s silliness. There is an absolutely hysterical scene where they delve into their impersonations and re-create a scene from The Dark Knight Rises.
The cinematography is so rich in the Italian landscape, you can’t help but feel the vibrancy and culture. Even though this movie isn’t really about food, foodies will devour the shots involving food preparation and presentation when Brydon and Coogan visit each of the various restaurants throughout the movie. The road trip provides time for both men to have some self reflection on the meaning of life, their careers, and their family. When you are surrounded by the beautiful nature Italy provides, how do you not start contemplating what your life has to offer? The Trip to Italy is currently playing in various art house theaters, but you can also catch it On Demand if one isn’t in your area.
Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? If you take this trip to Italy, you will have a jolly good time.
RATING: 4 out of 5 TICKET STUBS