British comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon return as fictional versions of themselves in director Michael Winterbottom’s The Trip to Italy. After the success of their previous restaurant-going road trip, Steve and Rob are asked to go on a second trip, this time around Italy. The two travel to many locations around the country, including Tuscany and Rome, visiting restaurants and having tantalizing conversations, which often involve many celebrity impersonations. Along the way, Rob Bryon receives a great opportunity, which may result in the increase of his profile in North America.
Like the original film from 2011, The Trip to Italy is an edited down version of the BBC television series of the same name and focuses on the fictionalized versions of Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon first introduced in 2005’s Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story. With the television series consisting of six half hour episodes, it contains about 72 minutes more content than the 108 minute film. However, while there is some notable trimming of certain scenes, particularly in the first half, the film version of The Trip to Italy still comes across as a complete story.
Probably the biggest selling point of both this film and the last are the dinner conversations between Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, which often feature hilarious results. The Trip to Italy arguably peaks early in this area, since the first dinner conversation features some of the best laughs of the film. Not only is there self-referential discussion about sequels, but the scene features the obligatory Michael Caine impersonations, which leads into mocking The Dark Knight Rises. While there indeed other funny moments throughout the rest of the film, they never really seemed to reach the highs of that first conversation. In addition to the comedy, there is much food porn on display in The Trip to Italy, as the film shows the many exquisite dishes being prepared at the restaurants Steve and Rob visit. This is definitely not a film that should be watched on an empty stomach.
One major difference The Trip to Italy makes from the previous film is how it switches the dramatic focus from Steve Coogan to Rob Brydon. This allows Brydon to show off some more dramatic chops, instead of being portrayed as merely a comedic genius, who constantly overshadows Coogan. The film makes reference to the fact that, unlike Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon is a practical unknown in the United States and a major plot point involves him being offered a role in a Michael Mann mob thriller. The increased focus on Brydon allows Steve Coogan to settle down as the somewhat more mature straight man.
Overall, The Trip to Italy is a humorous and mouth-watering follow-up to the original.8 | LIKED IT