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The Trip to Italy - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
The Trip to Italy
Directing: B+
Acting: B+
Writing: B+
Cinematography: A-
Editing: B+

The Trip to Italy is a sequel, but only in the loosest sense of the word. It might be more appropriate to call it a continuation -- of The Trip (2011), wherein Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, playing fictionalized versions of themselves, travel as friends reviewing restaurants. They've merely moved on from Northern England to -- you guessed it -- Italy.

As before, the actual "reviewing" isn't the point. There's a fair amount of food porn here, as we see each truly delicious looking dish at six different swanky Italian restaurants prepared and served. But Brydon, who is supposed to be writing the piece, never has anything articulate to say about the flavor of the food. We just see them both eating and loving the food. And then they launch into their witty banter, which is precisely the reason to see this movie. Their conversations are consistently hilarious, in a way that transcends their apparently obsessive needs to do celebrity impressions for each other.

Early on, they do acknowledge the difficulty in making sequels that are as good as their predecessor. This leads to a lengthy discussion of The Godfather, Part II, easily the greatest sequel ever made. And impressions of Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, and even a bit of Marlon Brando later on. There are several references to The Godfather, Part II throughout the movie, including a great dream sequence re-enactment of the murder of the man who killed The Godfather's mother. Except here it's Coogan and Brydon in mustaches.

That's the weirdest The Trip to Italy gets, though. Once again the plot is fairly thin, although the script, by director Michael Winterbottom, actually has a bit more depth. This does underscore one difference between this and the first film, which had no credited writer (Winterbottom directed that one as well though) and was mostly improvised. Clearly these actors have great improvisational skills, but having a script still lends a much greater sense of clarified story propulsion than cobbling together a story from ad-libbed scenes.

It doesn't hurt that much of the story takes place on the Mediterranean, which means lots of stunning vistas. It's not often a jaunty comedy is also notable for its cinematography. As such, we get many scenes of these two middle-aged men not just in restaurants, but in cars, and even on a few different boats. And no matter where they are, from impressions at dinner tables to discussions of the merits of mid-nineties Alanis Morissette in the car (evidently they got the rights to use more than one of her songs), they are a kick to watch and listen to.

There are some typical diversions, usually involving women but to a lesser extent their children. For a bit, Coogan's 16-year-old son (a fiction -- in real life he has a daughter) joins them. But really, although there's a vague sense of poignancy to these inclusions, they really just serve as story elements meant to justify the making of this movie about two friends cracking each other up along the Italian countryside.

It's a worthy endeavor for that reason alone: they crack each other and the audience up. This movie has a lot of laughs to offer, with a delightful mix of literary, highbrow humor and titteringly juvenile humor. Coogan and Brydon are great together, and both types of humor suit them well.

Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon pose at one of the landmarks in THE TRIP TO ITALY.

Overall: B+
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