Wesley Emblidge ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Assistant Editor
Three years ago, director Michael Winterbottom turned his six episode BBC miniseries The Trip into a 2-hour movie. The film followed comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon (as themselves) on a restaurant tour across England, in which they bicker, do celebrity impressions and review the best gourmet food around.
There’s not much that set it apart from the average odd couple road-trip comedy (aside from a bit of interesting commentary on the comedians’ careers), but the two actors are very talented improvisers and it’s always a pleasure to hear their Michael Caine impressions. Luckily, there’s more of that to come; the two are back, along with director Michael Winterbottom, for a new season, or a sequel in the case of The Trip to Italy.
Not much has changed this time around. This time, it’s Brydon who calls Coogan to tell him The Observer wants them on another tour, yet this time it’s in Italy. It’s even less motivated than their last trip, and hard to believe either of them would volunteer for it again, but the movie blows through this in the first scene. Yet much is still the same, despite Coogan’s meta joke early on asking Brydon, “We’re not going to do any impressions, are we?”
There are plenty of Michael Caine and Al Pacino voices throughout. In the last film, Coogan was recently divorced and off “chasing girls,” but this time he’s struggling with getting older while Brydon is cheating on his wife. Coogan’s son is also introduced to the plot, but really that’s where the film is at its worst. This series thrives on one key piece (aside from the indulgent shots of food and landscapes), and that’s the improvisational skills of its two leads.
The fact that their shtick of doing impressions with each other never gets old is a remarkable asset, so every time the film drifts away from what is essentially two competing stand up comedy acts and brings in their familial struggles it gets dull quickly. It’s barely a movie as is, and any attempts to make it appear as such are futile. What really works is the competitive relationship the two have- even in their discussions of history and food they’re constantly trying to one-up each other.
The Trip to Italy is really just more of the same, but if The Trip worked for you then you’ll be satisfied with this sequel. Chances are, we’ll see even more of these- they’re quick and cheap to film, and it’ll probably be a while before the appeal fades away.
Overall Grade: B