Take a Drink: for each new impression
Take a Drink: for every new delectable-looking dish
Take a Drink: for each professional dig
Take a Drink: for each footstep of Byron’s they follow
Do a Shot: for each new Alanis Morissette song
By: Henry J. Fromage (Four Beers) –
Back in 2012, British comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon somehow convinced the BBC to finance their culinary tour through northern England to the tune of six episodes (edited into a feature film) worth of delicious meals, lightly fictionalized plots, and a whole lot of amusing banter. This year, they pulled this off again, but this time with a tiny step up- Italy.
Forget Danny Ocean, these two have it figured out.
The Trip to Italy is exactly what it sounds like and I described above. The nominal plot involves Coogan’s relationship with his teenage son and Brydon chasing a bit of romance while getting a shot at a fictional Michael Mann gangster film.
As a Travel Channel-like travelogue, this is a total success. You can’t walk away from this film without craving some of the incredible-looking Italian food or feeling the call of the selvaggio to wander about Italy yourself, chiefly thanks to DP James Clarke’s beautiful lensing of its many attractions.
Coogan and Brydon’s cantankerous chemistry from the first has softened and deepened. They clearly, both in real life and as these fictionalized characters, enjoy bouncing comedy bits and impersonations off of each other, and the deeper conversations feel earnest as well.
Of course, the main reason to watch is the comedy, and the film is a reliable source of laughs, and elevates itself even above that in a few choice scenes where the two really commit to a bit, like Brydon’s one man conversation with a corpse at Pompeii.
Turns out they’re quite chatty.
The highlight of The Trip was Coogan and Brydon’s dueling Michael Caine impressions, but they quadruple (at least) down on them here, and wear out the schtick. Part of the problem is that many of the impressions aren’t any sharper than that drunk guy at the bar who thinks he sounds like Borat. I don’t know what version of The Dark Knight Rises these two watched, but their Christian Bale and Tom Hardy impersonations are positively dire.
Who the fuck is that supposed to be?
There’s no real reason for this to be almost two hours long. The formula is pretty rinse and repeat, with just a tad of plot development, and while you’re glad that their vacation gets to go on, after the third Al Pacino impression or so you’re ready to let them enjoy some privacy. I can’t imagine how they got a whole series worth of material out of this, and not at all tempted to find out.
The Trip to Italy is very much a rehash of the simple charms and amusing rhythms of its predecessor, but feels even less essential. It doesn’t even have the hint of conflict and character development of the first one.
And they rag on me for filming my vacations…
The Trip to Italy is a pleasant enough, quite amusing bit of vicarious living, but its modest charms are best suited to background noise or very rainy afternoons.