by Carrie Specht
Summer is usually the time for big movies with lots of action enhanced by copious amounts of special effects and computer generated images. Or even high concept comedies that involve opposites who are irrevocably drawn to each other. And of course there are the silly, flamboyant films aimed at kids accompanied by gobs of marking products that inevitably end up making more money than the film itself. But sometimes, maybe once in a blue moon there emerges another kind of film, one that relies on content clever dialogue, and snappy repartee. Fortunately for audiences the week before this film opened we experienced a “super” moon, which is even more rare than a blue one. On its trail comes The Trip To Italy, the delightful follow up to Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon’s previous road movie, The Trip.
Like their previous team up, Coogan (Philomena, Hamlet 2) and Brydon (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, The Rob Brydon Show) are on a regional exploration with the intention of visiting several restaurants to review for some English print outlet, but this time they’re in Italy instead of the English Lake district (poor fellas, right?). They drive a lot and they eat a lot, and there’s not much more to the plot than that. Although there are some strained attempts at a couple of subplots (romance for Brydon and family drama for Coogan), the whole set up is just a really good excuse for two friends to talk and rant about whatever comes to mind.
This might seem like a boring concept to some moviegoers, but with the likes of Coogan and Brydon it’s a brilliant idea that allows for some moments of hilarious comedy that will have you laughing along as if you were a part of the conversation and endless bantering. And since the two comedians appear to be sincerely close friends – the kind that pick on each other relentlessly and get on each other’s nerves to the absolute straining point and yet will still go for the kill on a tender subject if there’s a good joke in it – you’re really getting an inside look at a wonderful adult friendship. The Trip To Italy is as intimate a film as you’re ever likely to see.
I recommend seeing this film with someone with whom you share a similar relationship to the one that exists between Coogan and Brydon. No doubt the empathy you’ll experience will make the comedy that much more funny, and the movie that much more memorable (kind of like when you take a vacation with a friend). There are times you’ll wonder why these two men put up with each, and why they would even consider a trip together their behavior toward each other is so acerbic and unrelenting. And yet it is clear that they understand each other, making each other laugh harder than anyone else they know. When those moments happen I promise you’ll be laughing just as hard, especially if your own Coogan or Brydon is sitting next to you with whom you can share a knowing glance.