The Trip to Italy

September 2, 2014 at 1:37 pm | Posted in 2014 | Leave a comment
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Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon cleverly begin this sequel to their surprise 2010 indie hit, “The Trip,” by acknowledging Hollywood’s history of failed sequels, while aspiring to be their own “Godfather II.” Well, they do not, by any means, manage that. Nor do they even manage to be as good as their original film.  But this is no “Blair Witch II,” either. The first film was a much-funnier-than-it-should-have-been romp through Northern England restaurants, ostensibly to review them, but mostly as an opportunity for Brydon and Coogan (both fairly big in England but almost unknown here) to get silly, snarky and hilarious through random jokes, commentary, impressions and endless attempts to outdo each other. This time, they do the same thing all over again only with a bigger budget. So, rather than the hidden gems of England’s Lake Country, we watch them dine at some of Italy’s great restaurants from Rome to Cinque Terre to Tuscany. Along the way, we get all of the same cavorting and commentary on steroids. More impressions! More free association! More celebrity mocking! In fact, this film just felt like “The Trip” in overdrive. Not that it doesn’t work. In fact, it does. While I may not have laughed as hard or as long, I still laughed a lot and throughout the film. In a way, I was reminded of Christopher Guest films, in that everyone seems to love most the one they saw first. After that, it is just variations on the theme. It’s a clever theme but the same joke is never quite the same twice. “The Trip” ended on a bit of a melancholy note, with Coogan alone in his apartment, highlighting his loneliness and isolation, while Brydon went home to his wife. This time, the same theme plays out slightly differently and with more melancholy than the first film. The moody, middle-aged man, existential emptiness feels tonally like an odd way to end both films and it is even more jarring here. For a film so committed to zany fun to end so abruptly on such a downer note seems odd.  But this is a small quibble. The truth is, if you liked the first film, you will surely like this one. And, if you haven’t seen the first one, then you’ll probably like this one even more.

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