There were concerns for an impending screening of The Trip to Italy, Michael Winterbottom’s follow-up to his delicious 2010 gem The Trip.
The film’s reformed coupling of Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan playfully ponder early on how sequels are very rarely as good as the original. Cue Godfather reference, Al Pacino impersonation and so on. Was the new film going to contain as many impersonations? Would it slave formulaically to the first? Would there again be scant regard for narrative, the explicit food and scenery porn and most pertinently, would it be as funny? Thankfully, yes on all counts. The familiar scenario is quickly set (Coogan reluctantly accompanies Brydon on a journey through renowned Italian culinary destinations for a review piece he’s writing for Observer’s magazine) and so begins the amusing improvised riffs on Romantic poets, Batman, women, aging and mortality. As they cruise around in their Mini (in homage to The Italian Job and their beloved Michael Caine), listening to Alanis Morissette and partaking in witty jibes and ruminations galore, we follow them from one glorious setting to the next. The sheer extravagance of the locales they are in, the food that they eat and the hotels in which they stay will have you feeling quite ordinary and envious, especially given Brydon and Coogan seem to barely notice save one or two particularly exquisite views (mostly of the female variety). There is that ever so slight sense of despondency underlying what would otherwise be a shamelessly superficial romp. Is it pointing to the emptiness of celebrity or the despair of middle age? Perhaps both. What is certain is just how entertaining The Trip to Italy is. Sure those impersonations might start to tire, but there is far too much to be enjoyed in here to let that bother you. Rated M. The Trip to Italy is in cinemas now ****