If you’re a lover of gorgeous Italian vistas and hotels; an aficionado of exquisite food and wine; and especially, fans of the shenanigans of stars Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, then “The Trip to Italy” is for you. A sequel of sorts to “The Trip,” where the two somewhat fictionalized versions of Coogan and Brydon took a driving tour of Northern England reporting on food and hotel stays, “The Trip to Italy” finds them asked again by “The Observer” to take a similar excursion through Italy. Under the deft hand of writer/director Michael Winterbottom, this Italian tour is a kick with the right mix of scenery and Coogan/Brydon ingredients, as well as mouth-watering food cinematography by James Clarke (“Master Chef”).
Opening with Coogan in a Los Angeles flat on the phone with his mate, Brydon, Coogan tells his friend that he has just finished a television series and is on hiatus. Perfect timing, as Brydon entices Coogan to come and take a paid tour of Italy, following the haunts of the great Romantic poets Byron and Shelley, via reporting on great food and lodging.
Cut to Coogan driving a Mini Cooper through the Italian countryside, while Brydon offers up navigation and comedic insights. It’s not long before the first scrumptious meal in Piemonte at Trattoria Della Posta, complemented by both men’s spot-on comedic impersonations.
Those celebrities up for ribbing are: Michael Caine, Jude Law, “Batman’s” Christian Bale and Tom Hardy, Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Michael Buble, various James Bonds, among others. Coogan and Brydon also poke fun at themselves as well as each other as they travel through Liguria, Tuscany, Rome, Amalfi and Capri.
But it’s not only good food and hijinks; the film also takes a somewhat intimate look at relationship challenges for these two men. Coogan is trying to lay off extra-curricular activities and reconnect with his family, including his teen son, Joe (Timothy Leach), while married, new father Brydon, wants to let loose, and casually (or not so casually) has a fling with a yacht’s tour guide, Lucy (Rosie Fellner).
As the men cavort through Italy, it’s Coogan’s personal assistant, Emma (Claire Keelan) who gives the film grounding through her insights into her favorite film, “Roman Holiday.” Who knows what the future will bring to these travelers from their own Roman holiday, but it’s nice to take a ride and sing along to their oft played CD of Alanis Morissette’s “Jagged Little Pill.”
(However, as a reviewer, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that if you’re not fan of the two actor/comedians, then you might want to take a film detour and book your own Italian trip.)
“The Trip to Italy” is 107 minutes, Not Rated and opens August 15 in Los Angeles at the Landmark Theatre.