DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

THE TRIP TO ITALY (director/writer: Michael Winterbottom; screenwriters:  Steve Coogan/Rob Brydon; cinematographer: James Clarke; editors:  Mags Arnold/Paul Monaghan/Marc Richardson; cast: Steve Coogan (Steve), Rob Brydon (Rob), Rosie Fellner (Lucy), Claire Keelan (Emma), Timothy Leach (Joe, Coogan's son); Runtime: 108; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Melissa Parmenter; IFC Films; 2014-UK)

"A tasty food tour film and a buddy road movie, that registers as a pleasing comedy."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Director Michael Winterbottom ("Jude"/"A Mighty Heart"/"Trishna") and stars Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon reunite after doing The Trip (2010), a freewheeling film about the duo touring the British countryside to review restaurants. This one is a more expansive film--a tasty food tour film and a buddy road movie, that registers as a pleasing comedy. When Rob Brydon has been assigned by a newspaper to take a trip to Italy to write articles about his experience there and take photos, he invites his old friend Steve Coogan to join him. The meandering story follows the slightly fictionalized Brit actor-comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon around Italy's splendid sights at such scenic spots as Liguria, Tuscany, Camogli, Rome, the Amalfi Coast and ending in Capri, as they ride in their Mini Cooper, stay at first-class luxury hotels, dine on delicious looking pastas and Italian delicacies. The talky film has Coogan and Brydon reprise their Michael Caine bit from The Trip and this time impersonate him in the latest Batman film. Impersonations by both continue throughout and include the likes of Clint Eastwood, Bogart, Anthony Hopkins, De Niro, Pacino and the Godfather's Vito Corleone character played by Brando. They loosely retrace the journeys of the 19th century Romantic poets Shelley and Byron and reminisce about their lives and take photos where the English poets lived in Italy. Coogan reconnects with his teenage son (played by Timothy Leach) with his visit in Capri, and the married Brydon has a brief fling with a Brit exile (Rosie Fellner) working as a deckhand on a tourist boat.

The middle-aged dynamic duo, on their hedonistic journey, grouse about aging, the lasting effects of artistic achievements and their moral responsibility to their dear ones. It was hard to always be engaged in the antics of the insufferable Brydon, who couldn't say anything without an impersonation--which was funny at times but also at times was too much to take.

If viewed as a fun-loving personal vacation pic, with not much substance but with stunning location shots and good camaraderie between the friends riffing each other without regard to limits, it probably turns out watchable. It's a touristy travelogue film that probably like most vacations leaves both good and bad memories.

REVIEWED ON 9/22/2014       GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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