Review: Styx

The Trip to Italy

The-Trip-TO-Italy-Poster-518x740I did not see the first of this series, but it is now on my list. In the first one, called simply The Trip (2010) the same two men, comedian/actors Steve Coogan (Philomena) and Rob Brydon, traveled around the the north of England eating and talking while ostensibly writing an article for a newspaper. This one takes them to one of my favorite places on earth, Italia! And there they dine at six fabulous restaurants and continue their silly conversations, frequently doing impersonations of actors from Pacino to Christian Bale to a contest of who can do Michael Caine best. (Brydon does a pitch perfect Hugh Grant a few times.) The film is not really about the food, though the director does shoot the chefs and the presentations lovingly, and Coogan and Brydon do ooh and ahh from time to time. It is really about the witty repartee covering an uneasy feeling that both men’s lives are in flux, and each is struggling to find his next move.

One fun recurring beat in the film is talk of romantic poets Byron and Shelley having taken this same tour, so they point out places that are significant, make jokes about them, and take photos for the newspaper article.lead That the actors are playing themselves makes it difficult to know what is real and what is not, though there is a script and there are other actors. You can tell a lot is improvised and thank goodness they are both so good at it. There are some hilarious bits. But there are also some mid-life existential moments, back in their hotel rooms apart, as Coogan tries to reconnect with his son and Brydon sleeps with an expat tour guide after his wife at home is too busy to talk.

This film made me think of another less successful film I saw earlier in the year, Land Ho. Both are essentially road trips with two very different personalities. Both are of men of a certain age taking stock of their lives, and in extremely photogenic locales, but this one is just plain extertaining from start to finish. The Trip to Italy was shown in England as a six part television series and the film is an edited down version. I think I’d like to see the whole series, but I would recommend the film to anyone who loves Italy and road trips, because that is essentially what this is — a couple of guys on the road, touring in their Mini Cooper, hitting all the famous spots and talking about everything except what really matters to them.

1 Comments

  1. Arty Chick, October 17, 2014:

    I saw the first of the series and it is A LOT like the second. A lot of the same riffs, etc. I’d say you don’t need to see both and the second one is by far the better of the two.

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