The Trip to Italy

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I’ll gladly take seconds of this delicious dish, but…it’s a bit like eating leftovers the next day. You’re enjoying it, but also thinking about how much better it was the first time.

Hey – if Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy can go to a different country every so often to hook up, let these guys go to various countries to eat fit and riff on whatever they find amusing. This time it was to Italy, where the scenery was as nice to look at as the food.

In The Trip four years ago, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, played fictionalized versions of themselves. They go on a trip to various restaurants in England to write reviews for the Observer. For some reason on this trip, Coogan seems to enjoy Drydon’s company. That takes away some of the humor we had with the various facial expressions Coogan gives at being exasperated by Brydon’s non-stop need to be funny…or just hear himself talk. I’d love to hear these guys talk about anything, they’re so humorous on all their takes. The topics range from musicians, to poets, and actors; and there’s nothing funnier than watching two very good comedians try to one-up each other.

We get some of the same impersonations we got in the first movie – Michael Caine and Sean Connery. Yet this time, they’re working strictly with later era Caine. In the first movie, they did all the different decades and how his voice changed. In this, they dissect why he always seems to be whining and on the verge of crying as he talks to Batman. It’s hysterical.

When Brydon does an interesting Al Pacino, Coogan wants to know why he keeps sticking his tongue out like a lizard. When Brydon stands in his hotel room, after abruptly being hung-up on by his wife, he continues the conversation he was having with her; as Dustin Hoffman. I’m not sure why that’s so funny, but it is.

That doesn’t mean these are all original riffs. The joke about Coogan playing a fake mandolin while Brydon does Brando in Godfather…reminded me a lot of the bass guitar scene in I Love You, Man (a movie that will make $50 million more than this, and had 50 fewer funny jokes). A handful of the jokes weren’t all that funny, but mildly amusing.

The only time Coogan ever seemed upset with Brydon, is when he lands a plum role in a Michael Mann mob film, playing an accountant. It’s another chance for him to do Pacino, and kiss a waitress during a line-reading.

These guys are so funny doing impersonations that, even when they do some that aren’t that great (Robert De Niro), it’s still humorous.

The movie probably isn’t as improvised as they want us to believe. Sure, the director obviously lets talent like this riff, but I’m sure many of the conversations were really worked out before hand. They couldn’t have such a funny conversation about how hard it was to understand Tom Hardy and Christian Bale in Dark Knight, without really nailing down the punchlines to that. One of them ends with this observation about Hardy, after making fun of him for five straight minutes: “But he really is a good actor. He’s very muscular, so…that means he’s a good actor.”

This is a movie that everyone should enjoy. They quote Lord Byron and discuss Shelley. Yet they’ll also talk about contemporary musicians.

“Where do you stand on Michael Buble?”

“On his wind pipe.”

Before playing an Alanis Morissette CD, there’s a discussion on how to properly pronounce her name. When she sings the first line of the first song, “Do I stress you out?”

Coogan is quick to reply, “Yes, you do.”

But they also talk about life. They eat good food, drink too much; and just like Sideways, the guys are funny and enjoyable to watch, without it going over the top. For example, in one of these weak Adam Sandler or Kevin Hart comedies, the guys would be complaining about how their wives never want to have sex and they’d go to a strip club. In this, they talk about women no longer looking at them, growing old and groping Filipino nurses in the home, and how after two years of marriage, you wish the women would “just put the lids back on the jars.”

This is a nice, low-key comedy for adults. If you didn’t see the first Trip, I doubt you’ll take the trip to find this. Your loss.

It gets 3 ½ stars out of 5.