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'The Trip to Italy': Bellissimo

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The Trip to Italy

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If “The Trip to Italy” doesn’t start you thinking about packing your suitcase and heading off to the Italian countryside, pretty much nothing will. “The Trip to Italy,” starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, is a follow-up to their 2010 “The Trip” and reunites them with director Michael Winterbottom in the pursuit of delicious dining and sightseeing.

“The Trip” took Steve and Rob on a restaurant exploration of Northern England. For this go-round the two are off on a tour of six different places and restaurants in Italy. And what a tour it is. “The Trip to Italy” treats us to absolutely breath-taking scenery… an on-going discussion of Byron, Keats and Shelley…visits to some amazing historical sites… mouthwatering platefuls of food…and most especially, wonderfully delightful conversation. Whether it is in their car, in the restaurants, or even alone…yes, talking to themselves…the conversations Steve and Rob have are the best parts of “The Trip to Italy.” Both are excellent mimics and their turns at “doing” Michael Caine, Hugh Grant, Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino, just to name a few, are spot-on and absolutely hysterical. Perhaps one of the funniest bits is the conversation about Christian Bale and Tom Hardy. These impressions, going back and forth between the two actors as done by Steve and Rob, are uproariously entertaining and go on for about 10 minutes. “The Trip to Italy” has so many funny lines that I could quote, but I’ll refrain so you can enjoy them “live.”

“The Trip to Italy” does manage to throw in a bit of a plot…such as it is. Steve’s son, unhappy at home, joins the twos for the end of the trip and there are some nice bonding moments between Steve and his son. Rob’s life takes an unexpected twist while on the road and he also learns that he’s up for a part in an upcoming Michael Mann film as an accountant for the Mob. Watching him do all his “Godfather” impressions is hilarious and when Steve gets in the act, even more so.

Although “The Trip to Italy” seems factual, the film is by no means a documentary, and in reality, Coogan and Brydon are playing versions of themselves. What is very real are the stunning shots of the food. As an added bonus, for the foodies among us, there are sequences filmed in the various kitchens as the food is being prepared.

Steve Coogan is well-known in the U.S. and has shown with “Philomena” that he is up to performing dramatic roles. However, comedy is his true forte, and it is here that he really shines. Rob Brydon was unknown to me, but judging from this film, he is no less gifted at comedy and improvisation than is Coogan. The chemistry between Coogan and Brydon is fantastic and makes “The Trip to Italy’” the ultimate scrumptious entrée.

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