Have you ever gone on a weekend trip with your best-friend(s)? The drive out to wherever you’re going is full of your favorite music and consists of you both singing along, despite whether or not it actually sounds good. When you arrive at your destination, you walk around and see the sights and discuss nearly everything in life. You open up to one another and share your fears, your desires, and your wants in life. Of course, no trip with is complete without inside jokes and the things that make you such good friends to begin with. Imagine if someone made a movie of those times?
After a semi-successful trip around England tasting fine foods and sharing many laughs, Steve (Steve Coogan) and Rob (Rob Brydon) are asked again to review food, but this time in Italy. The two agree to do it, despite being completely unqualified, and this time around their lives are a bit different. Steve has been spending a lot of time in America, more than he and his family had thought and he finds himself being distant to his son. Meanwhile, Rob is having some marital struggles and isn’t finding much appreciation for his work. So, this vacation is just what they need.
As they embark on the journey, it’s clear that Rob is more excited, but Steve can’t resist long before he divulges into accents and joins Rob in the jokes. They eat delicious food, see some breathtaking sights, and tell many jokes along the way. All the while, they attempt to handle their relationship problems and they discuss their lives and what they want out of them. If anything, this trip is about two best friends reuniting for another adventure and making and sharing memories as they go. Life has gone by fast and it’s been good and bad, but they’ll always have their impersonations.
The Trip To Italy is a quite the unusual film, as it feels more like an accumulation of you and your best-friend’s inside jokes and personal conversations. The level of improvisation is through the roof and, rather than leading the audience into weird places for too long, it works stunningly well for the film’s entirety. There are magnificent impressions, gourmet looking food, dramatic elements, and more than enough beautiful scenery to keep you smiling and laughing the whole way through.
Rob Brydon steals the show with his almost obsessive nature of impersonating famous celebrities and creating new voices. He’s a comedian and it’s evident that he’s got some insecurities about himself, or else he wouldn’t be so willing to become someone else entirely to please the people around him. He gives the best Hugh Grant impression I’ve ever heard, which really played well with me because I adore Love Actually, Notting Hill, and Four Weddings and a Funeral. Brydon provides us with a ton of Pacino impressions, as well as the best Michael Cain that I’ve ever heard. What I admired most about him, is his dedication to a voice, or a character and his willingness to keep going, despite the worry that he may be going too far.
Steve Coogan is more subdued in this film than he was in the first one and I really didn’t mind that. His character isn’t entirely jaded, but it’s clear that he’s been working a lot and he just wants some relaxation time and time spent with his son. It’s one of the more serious roles that I’ve seen him play, but he does loosen up from time-to-time and reminds us all of why he’s so great. Coogan confirms my belief that the British are just as, if not more funny than Americans are and his sly, dry wit had me roaring with laughter. He’s not as zany as Brydon, but his under-the-breath commentary and general outlook is quite hilarious. When he’s not cracking wise, Coogan is worried about his family, his career, and the sacrifices he’ll have to make to have what he loves.
Not that this film has much to do with This Is The End, but the two find similarities in that their characters play versions of their real selfs. Brydon is a big-time comedian in England and Coogan is a big-time actor there, but he’s recently started appearing in more American movies too. The work scenarios that they discuss with one another are often amusing and very reflective on what fame brings, how people handle it, and how people perceive them in real life. Neither has any clue why they were chosen to review food (of all things), but they get to travel around Italy and how could you pass that up? They’re always discussing something interesting at first and then as time goes by, they divulge in their comic habits and find a way to slip into another impression. The dramatic, familial aspects of this film work as a great counterbalance to all the improvised comedy and I loved getting to know all sides of these characters.
What works really well for this film, also has some disadvantages. The Trip to Italy is a condensed version of a BBC television show of the same name and taking three-hours of footage and turning it into an hour-and-forty-five-minute movie is no easy task. The idea of two comics going around, eating fine food in exotic locations, and improvising the majority of the time adds a level of familiarity that we find when we’re off with friends. We do and say weird things when we’re out and about and we often think that we’re the funniest people ever. Imagine if someone taped you and your best friend and had all this hilarious footage, but then they had to edit it together. While most of this film works, the flow of things is a bit off and its fairly obvious where certain scenes were cut short. There are a few instances where I wanted a continuation of a conversation or scene, and there are some instances where I was ready for whatever they had next. The film doesn’t feel long, but it does feel like there are things missing from it.
The Trip to Italy provides a fresh escape to the movies, without the worry of finding a million different things that are done in every movie these days. While it’s not a laugh-out-loud comedy, it never tries to be and I found that laughing to myself and aloud (every now and again) was far more fun. The humor here is intelligent, odd, and doesn’t rely on dirty jokes to get you to laugh. While Brydon may rightfully earn the spotlight here, it can’t be denied that he and Coogan are a perfect pair that need to be seen and heard by all. Unless you live under a rock and have no idea who these guys are impersonating and what they’re talking about, I believe you’re in for a splendid time at the movies.
The Trip to Italy Trailer