Freelance writer. Melbourne based cinephile. Fond of food.
Published May 26th 2014
Second serve proves as tasty as the first
Director: Michael Winterbottom (The Trip, The Look of Love, 24 Hour Party People, Welcome to Sarajevo) Cast: Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon, Marta Barrio, Rosie Fellner
In the opening scenes of The Trip to Italy, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon opine on the inherent disappointment of sequels, citing The Godfather 2 as the singular exception every one brings up to challenge the rule.
The joke of course is that they are setting themselves up for the same criticism, going back to the well they first mined with The Trip. You can hardly blame them - the 2010 film struck a chord with such a singularly basic formula, and looked like such a blast to make, it's no wonder they and director Michael Winterbottom have joined forces to re-create the magic.
The format is simple, comedians Coogan and Brydon play variations of themselves, driving around the countryside, eating in good restaurants, while playfully sparring with each other. This time though, instead of enjoying the delights of gastro pubs in northern England, they've decided to treat themselves to the scenic and culinary wonders of Italy. The food and the locations may be different, but otherwise this is more of the same - which after all, is what everyone wants.
The comic duo clearly know each other well. Scene after scene they settle into their seats and the dialogue between them flows with seeming spontaneity and effortless wit. The real attraction though is their uncanny impersonations, with Brydon in particular possessing an impressive arsenal, constantly segueing into renditions of Sean Connery, Christian Bale, Al Pacino, Woody Allen, Ronnie Corbett, and his favourite, Michael Caine.
Between the impersonations and the pop culture jokes, there is the slimmest of narrative threads. As with the first Trip, the pair are brave enough to have their careers held up for mockery, but also to give the screen versions of themselves (presumably) fictionalised flaws.
With or without the flaws, they make for delightful company, always interesting, often very funny, and with that pleasing sense that deep down they really are old mates who enjoy riffing off each other.
Like the original Trip, the sequel is edited down from 6 episodes of a BBC TV series. If you've seen the first film and you loved it, chances are you'll love this just as much. If you haven't seen it, it won't detract one iota from your enjoyment of the second film. The Trip to Italy may not be put on a pedestal by cineastes with the same reverence as The Godfather 2, but as sequels go, and comedy sequels in particular, this is one case of a second serve being just as appetising as the first.