Sometimes a sequel can be just as much fun as the original. The Trip To Italy is a case in point. The premise of The Trip was two guys on a road trip to write a book about sampling the best food in the UK. It was just Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon playing somewhat fictionalized versions of themselves and having a great deal of fun. The same is true of The Trip To Italy.
Essentially, the plot is this: Rob Brydon has been asked to do a follow-up book on the food of Italy so he persuades his buddy, Steve Coogan, to accompany him. They visit several different regions in Italy and eat, drink and converse – mostly with each other, but occasionally with people they meet along the way.
The Trip To Italy is a mostly good-natured road trip movie. It meanders along at the pace of a couple of tourists who are enjoying a once in a lifetime experience and want to make the most of it. The scenery is spectacular, the food looks amazing and the guys are witty, silly and (very occasionally) unexpectedly serious.
The film was written and directed by Michael Winterbottom, though you know that Coogan and Brydon riffed on that script a great deal. There is great fun to be had in their dueling impressions – both do terrific takes on Michael Caine, and a riff on the unintelligibility of Christian Bale and Tom Hardy in The Dark Knight Rises is epic.
Though they are few, there are a few dramatic complications – Brydon has an unexpected ‘adventure’ that he’s seriously thinking of repeating; Coogan’s family situation seems more than a bit strained. In moments when these complications arise, we realize (if he had forgotten, which would be easy) that these guys are damn fine actors.
Between the relaxed pace (several notches below deliberate), the exquisite scenery (captured magnificently by cinematographer James Clarke), the amazing food and the natural camaraderie of Coogan and Brydon, The Trip To Italy is a small gem in a summer of big bangs (some brilliant; more not).
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