Film review: Michael Winterbottom's Trip to Italy - a comic culinary caper
The Trip to Italy
Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon
Director: Michael Winterbottom
The success of this collaboration between British filmmaker Michael Winterbottom (24 Hour Party People, 2002) and comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon rests on how comfortable the two stars are at playing with public perceptions of themselves and with the world of show business.
The Trip (2010) started life as a BBC series, but Winterbottom came upon the canny idea of truncating the whole package into a film - primarily targeted at an American audience perhaps not so familiar with the men the production is built around. Then, Coogan and Brydon were rambling around the wilds of Britain reviewing restaurants - or at least acting like they were - and now we have them doing the same thing across Italy, following in the footsteps of poets such as Lord Byron and visiting sites used for such films as Roman Holiday (1953).
We know now that Coogan and Brydon are not, in real life, as close as they make out on camera, and that's part of the production's magic - the pair gleefully mock themselves, their supposed friendship and the state of their careers as they stand now, about four years after they first set out together.
And while in The Trip we had Coogan bullish, even nervy, and on the brink of international stardom, in The Trip to Italy we find him in a more reflective, even content, mood as he ruminates on age and on how he is coping with its various effects.
Brydon, meanwhile, is given more of a chance to assert himself, or at least a version of himself, as his career has also flourished. While the production lacks a little of the spark of that first journey, it's still a thoroughly entertaining ride, made more engaging by the scenery as they cruise around Italy.
The pair delight in revisiting some of the impersonations that lit up The Trip while exploring new variations on the same theme, none better then when they conjure up a conversation between actor Tom Hardy (as Bane from The Dark Knight Rises, 2012) and an imaginary assistant director who's trying to encourage him to make sense.
Extras: Costume Drama Rushes and Preparing the Food featurettes; gallery.