Michael Winterbottom’s largely improvised 2010 film The Trip took actor-comedians Steve Coogan (Alan Patridge, The Look of Love) and Rob Brydon (Tristram Shandy, Little Britain) – or semifictionalized versions thereof – on a restaurant tour around northern England. In this witty and incisive followup, Winterbottom (The Killer Inside Me, 9 Songs) reunites the pair for a new culinary road trip, where they retrace the steps of the Romantic poets’ grand tour of Italy. During their drives and between bites of fine cuisine, the pals indulge in some sparkling banter and face off against each other with celebrity impersonations. Re-whetting our palates from the earlier film, the characters enjoy mouthwatering meals in gorgeous settings from Liguria to Capri while riffing on subjects as varied as Batman’s vocal register, the artistic merits of Alanis Morissette’s “Jagged Little Pill” and, of course, the virtue of sequels.
Winterbottom trains his camera to capture the idyllic Italian landscape and the gastronomic treasures being prepared and consumed while keeping the film centered on the crackling chemistry between the two leads. THE TRIP TO ITALY effortlessly melds the brilliant comic interplay between Coogan and Brydon into quieter moments of self-reflection, letting audiences into their insightful ruminations on the nuances of friendship, the juggling of family and career, and the inevitability of growing old. The result is a biting and moving portrait of modern-day masculinity.
The film, an official selection at the Sundance Film Festival and the Seattle International Film Festival, received high praise upon its national theatrical release.