THE TRIP TO ITALY
By Gary Murray
Starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon
Written and directed by Michael Winterbottom
Running time 108 min
MPAA Rating R
Selig Film Rating Cable
In 2010, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon made a film called The Trip. It was about a fictitious Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon traveling the English countryside, eating five star foods and getting on each other’s nerves. It was a gentle little comedy that had a bitter little interior. Since it was an art house success, we finally get a sequel The Trip to Italy.
This film starts a few years after the last film. Rob Brydon (Rob Brydon) is tasked to repeat the success of his last article he wrote about the first trip with a second article on a new trip focusing on the cuisine of Italy.
The higher-ups want Steve Coogan (Steve Coogan) to come along and repeat the magic and maybe fashion a book of the experience. Rob is married and loves his wife and toddler, but the boredom of marriage is creeping around the corners. Steve is single and estranged from his son, the two living on different continents. The trip is just as much as an escape as it is a job for both men.
Steve agrees to go along with the week-long adventure, taking in the sights of Shelly and Byron. Since Tropic Thunder, Steve has become an international star. Rob’s agent calls him and let’s the actor know that he is up for a big part in a Michael Mann flick. It could make Rob an international star and on equal footing with Steve.
As part of the food journey, they take a sailboat during part of their adventure and fleeting romance happens with one of the major character. It makes the actor question what is important in life.
There is not much of a plot with The Trip to Italy. It is just a bunch of driving around and eating fabulous food, with conversation and viewing ancient ruins. The problem with the film is that there is no character arc and little in the way of plot. It’s just two guys eating and sight-seeing.
Easily the best parts of the film are when the two actors just sit down and eat. They one-up each other with impersonations, making the other laugh. One just wants to hang out with them and share a meal. It would be the treat of a lifetime.
They discuss such diverse subjects as understanding The Dark Knight Batman and Bane to cannibalism to impersonating famous British celebrities to how bad sequels have become. It is a type of swirling conversation done between old friends who crave the company of the other. It is a fun bit of a distraction. It just never goes anywhere.
The biggest difference between the two films is of attitude. In the first film, Steve seems irritated by Rob and is annoyed by his company. Here, the two men truly enjoy each others company and are laughing at each other as much as they are laughing at themselves. It is a much more natural progression between the characters but the tension in the first film made for a more dramatic event.
Italy is one of the most scenic places in the world and Michael Winterbottom captures that magical place with an artist’s eye. Within a few frames, the audience just falls in love with this fascinating country and yearns for a visit. The film should boost romantic tourism for years.
If one enjoyed the first film The Trip, then The Trip to Italy becomes a pleasant sequel. It is a stand-alone adventure but seeing the first film makes the second one just a tad bit more accessible. It is not a great film but it is better than most art-house faire.