The next best thing to a date

And a vacation. And good food. And fine wine. That’s the power of cinema.

the trip to italy

Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan

Disclaimer: I watched The Trip to Italy in its original episodic form on British television when I lived there, instead of the condensed two-hour film version.

In an imaginary world where I’d have a lot of money and be a clever English bon-vivant, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon would be my best pals. I’d tag along with “the lads,” as I’d call them, and we’d travel to exotic locales and eat the most delicious of foods while cracking each other up with impeccable impersonations of famous British personalities. Unfortunately, this is the real world and I’m just a poor shmuck with limited gastronomic know-how and shit impersonation skills. Thankfully with Michael Winterbottom’s The Trip, and its follow-up The Trip to Italy, I can pretend.

The Trip to Italy finds “the guys” back on the road, with Brydon being assigned by The Observer to write more restaurant reviews, but this time (SPOILER ALERT) in Italy, more or less retracing the footsteps of Byron and other Romantic poets. Following the same improvised formula as the last one, the lads revisit a lot of the same topics and funny favourites. Basically, if you were not a fan of their Michael Caine impersonations, you might want to stay away from this one, because Caine is back, along with the whole cast of Batman, the “small man in a box” and a lot of British celebs you might never have heard of. It’s hard to say any more, because there’s not much plot to explain and I’d just be ruining the jokes.

Films like this remind me of what I miss the most from living in the U.K.: the importance of good banter. You’re basically having a two-hour dinner date with Coogan and Brydon, while over-looking beautiful Italian landscapes. North American cinemas have their limits, but if you can, this film is best enjoyed with a good bottle and something to nibble on. Some might find the formula repetitive, but I’d follow these guys anywhere.  Where to next year, boys? ■

The Trip to Italy is in theatres now