Entertainment » Movies

The Trip to Italy

by Roger Walker-Dack
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Friday Aug 22, 2014
Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan star in 'The Trip to Italy'
Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan star in 'The Trip to Italy'  (Source:Sundance Institute)

Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, who are like a contemporary Brit 'Odd Couple,' are back together again, reprising their roles of touring enthusiastic amateur gastronomes whilst verbally sparring and trying to out 'impersonate' each other.

This pair of comic actors pretends to irritate each other with their quick-witted jibes whilst charming the pants of audiences in a British TV series that morphed into a very successful independent movie "The Trip." On that occasion, the restaurants and hotels they visited, dined and flirted with the female staff were in the North of England, where their inspiration was the words of Wordsworth & Coleridge and the film roles of Michael Caine. Now they are back, but this time with a tour of Italy from northern Piemonte to the sun-drenched Amalfi Coast, taking in some stunning scenery along the way and casually feasting on a series of superb mouth-watering dishes.

Once again they are ostensibly undertaking their mission for a writing assignment that Brydon has received from "The Observer Newspaper." They are again directed by Michael Winterbottom, who is credited with writing the script, too, but he has obviously given this talented pair a very free rein to allow them to improvise as much as they want in order to give the whole affair a naturalistic, almost documentary feel (albeit an extremely funny one). As they drive around some breathtaking countryside in their black Mini-Cooper (with its malfunctioning stereo that for some obscure reason will only allow them to continually play Alanis Morrisette's "Jagged Little Pill" CD), they spend the bulk of their non-eating time showing off with their obsessive impersonations of different movie stars.

Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon who are like a contemporary Brit 'Odd Couple', are back together again reprising their roles of touring enthusiastic amateur gastronomes whilst verbal sparring and trying to out 'impersonate' each other.

In the way of narrative, Coogan follows on with where he left off in "The Trip." His character is still trying to establish a better relationship with his teenage son, who eventually flies out to join them on the last leg of the tour. Meantime, it's Brydon's turn for a career break when he gets a call from London and the offer of his first acting role in an American movie. Much to his surprise, he is also the one to get laid on this trip, in between phoning home to his stressed out wife, who is having trouble coping with their young baby on her own.

Coogan and Brydon are a disarmingly charming couple, and are following in the footsteps of Lord Bryon and Percy Shelley who were "celebrity" British travelers from two centuries ago. They use both their predecessor's poetry and their Grand Tour as a spurious link to their own escapades. These modern day travelers' sensibilities are an acquired taste for Brits in particular, but they have a wonderfully quirky sense of humor that will appeal to anyone that has the slightest Anglophile tendency. And in a similar vein, the journey itself will delight every committed Italophile too.

Despite the fact that is a culinary pilgrimage, beyond the occasional shot of a chef putting the finishing touches to a dish, the only real detail we get on the food is when each waiter serves it up and pronounces its ingredients. Winterbottom wisely allows us to just soak in the picture of these carb-heavy, sumptuous looking courses, as each one is a masterpiece in itself.

It's obvious that they have all the perfect ingredients of a successful adventure, ensuring that there will be other "Trips" to follow.

Roger Walker-Dack, a passionate cinephile, is a freelance writer, critic and broadcaster and the author/editor of three blogs. He divides his time between Miami Beach and Provincetown.

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