Cast: Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon
The Trip to Italy is the sequel to the 2010 film The Trip. Like its predecessor, The Trip to Italy is directed by Michael Winterbottom and co-stars Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. Also, like its predecessor, The Trip to Italy follows Coogan and Brydon playing fictionalized versions of themselves in what can loosely be classified as a road comedy.
Throwing out your typical three-act structure, the film rhythmically flows from scene to scene. The pattern usually goes like this:
Coogan and Brydon eat at a fine Italian restaurant, quick cuts to the food being prepared and brought out to them in courses, Coogan and Brydon do some improvised bits with funny voices, Coogan and Brydon drive to a hotel while listening to Alanis Morissette, Coogan and Brydon talk about movies both classic and contemporary, Coogan and Byrdon visit a landmark associated with Lord Byron’s exile in Italy.
And everything just sort of strings itself along within that pattern. Yet for all its highfalutin banter and motifs associated with exiled authors, The Trip to Italy doesn’t come out of the other end with anything terribly enlightening or significant.
The film feels more like the act of a pair of mid-life crisis comedians who have too much money and not enough sex—as self-indulgent as the pair’s regular fine dining outings.
The Trip to Italy endears to win its audience over with its artful rendering of Italian vistas and fleetingly funny improvised comedic scenes. Yet somehow can’t get over its two fundamentally unlikeable leads.
Despite filmmaking and comedic ability, The Trip to Italy still comes off like travel porn for wealthy old people. Indeed, the aging yuppies sitting around me in the audience never failed to audibly “aww” at the sight of professional chefs putting together hand-made ravioli and lobster, or knowingly nod and chuckle at the sight of a cove in Italy where they vacationed in ’96. This film clearly has its audience. Perhaps its audience even claims to understand the meaning behind Coogan and Brydon’s hinting comparisons between themselves and exiled writes such as Byron, Capote and Vidal.
Hey, maybe Steve Coogan is Lord Byron and Rob Brydon is Percy Shelley. Maybe that’s why the two contrive to speak about the poets’ relationship throughout the film. Perhaps Michael Winterbottom also somehow finds meaning in comparing himself to John Houston and Orson Welles in The Trip to Italy. Or maybe this is a movie you’re better off not seeing.