Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Trip to Italy (2014)

Director: Stephen Winterbottom

Hilarious. Though I can't say everyone would love it.

If you saw The Trip, by the same director, featuring the same pair of actors, with exactly the same premise, then you know almost exactly what you're in for. With a little role reversal and a completely new setting, you get the same semi-scripted banter that Coogan and Brydon delivered in the first one. While I thought that this recent show is actually a bit tighter and funnier, it's not markedly so. Either way, if you laughed at the first, you'll laugh at the second.

If you haven't seen the first one, here's how they both go: Well-known British funnymen Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon hit the road to sample the food at several noted restaurants. While both successful comedians, their styles are rather different from one another, with Coogan seeing himself as a tad more sophisticated and Brydon sometimes aiming for a lower common denominator. They do, however, riff off of each other exceptionally well. Whether it's dreaming up and living out silly scenarios through dialogue or battling each other with dueling celebrity impersonations, their two-man improvisational skills are hard to beat.

As often as not, it's when Coogan and Brydon are kicked  back,
nattering back and forth that the film is most amusing.
Of course, this type of humor isn't for everyone. The movie has no "main story," other than Coogan and Brydon trying to live their lives as long-distance fathers, while being aging and well-known comedians. The inversion from the first film is that, while in the first it was Coogan who was portrayed as the self-absorbed, sex- and career-driven one, in Italy, Brydon seems to be going through his own mid-life crisis of self indulgence.

Interestingly, the elements of the more personal lives of the characters are perfectly balanced: they are given just enough time to add a touch of substance to the film, while never detracting from the main purpose of the film, which is to let these two guys make us laugh. No written description can do justice to the magic at play when Coogan and Brydon are in their comedic "zones," but I do offer this one clip from the first film, which I think perfectly displays their chops. For those unfamiliar, just use this as a litmus test as to whether you would care for either film.

For those who enjoyed the first and are wondering if this one hold up to it, I say unequivocally, "Yes."