The Trip to Italy

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The Trip to Italy

Director Michael Winterbottom’s 2010 film The Trip was a bit of an oddity. Released both as a six-part television series (in the UK) and an edited-down feature film (everywhere else), it followed comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon (playing slightly altered versions of themselves) around the UK’s Lake District. They visited local restaurants, discussed the lives of poets Coleridge and Wordsworth and did a lot of celebrity impersonations.
The Trip to Italy reunites the duo for a trip around Italy, now following in the footsteps of Byron and Shelley. But life has moved on: Coogan’s Hollywood career has flamed out, and now older and wiser, he’s looking to reconnect with his teenage son. Meanwhile Brydon, whose solid family life was in stark contrast to Coogan’s womanising in The Trip, is moving up in the world. Having become a household name in the UK and with Hollywood calling, he sees this overseas trip as a chance to cut loose – and not just with the comedy impressions.
Large stretches of this film are just the two men at various restaurant tables putting on silly voices, but they’re extremely funny voices, and the pair is able to build on each other’s jokes to provide fully formed comedy sketches. Winterbottom builds on the changes in his cast’s real-life status (Coogan really has moved his career focus back to the UK; Brydon really is a household name in the UK) to shift the power balance between the duo while maintaining Coogan’s frustration with Brydon’s puppy-like enthusiasm.
It’s an interesting twist, though it means the ending comes off as oddly low-key and inconclusive. Still, with its gravesite visits and meditations on fading allure to women, this is as much about mortality as it is about Michael Caine and Roger Moore impressions.
Written by Anthony Morris