THE TRIP TO ITALY
Reviewed for Shockya by Harvey Karten. Data-based on Rotten Tomatoes
Director: Michael Winterbottom
Screenplay: Michael Winterbottom, Rob Brydon, Steve Coogan
Cast: Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon
Screened at: Review, NYC, 7/17/14
Opens: August 15, 2014
Gorgeous Italian scenery, exquisite food, cute convertible to see it all, even a few beautiful women. What could possibly go wrong? Just one thing: the two principal performers, particularly Rob Brydon, never shut up and what they do almost throughout the picture’s almost two hours is perform impersonations of actors. Sean Connery, Marlon Brando, Timothy Dalton, those are just a few of the celebrities that undergo satiric takes by the two noted comedians. Most of the imitations are amateurish, and even if they were more polished, who cares? Is this how two buddies, allegedly reviewing restaurants both on the road and in Rome, converse—and loudly at that, never mind the high level surroundings of the trattorias? They may not get bored, and the women who join them seem to laugh—one of them even sharing a bed for a night with Mr. Brydon—but the theater audience, who can only look at the calamari, the linguini, the ravioli, can’t be blamed if they simply turn off. There is nothing subtle or enriching about the chatter in what is essentially a two-hander.
Since the script is by director Michael Winterbottom and by the two stars themselves, we can guess that a lot of the dialogue is improvised, especially since the words themselves have little meaning, the way that they are said being everything.
This is a male bonding movie, a buddy comedy, a look at modern masculinity, an exhibition of sparkling chemistry between two straight males who take separate hotel rooms but are together throughout their days traveling from Rome to Capri—but unfortunately missing out on Sicily.
The plot opens on Steve Coogan in L.A., completing the last season of the TV series he was offered during Winterbottom’s “The Trip.” When the Observer assigns Rob Brydon to do a travel piece on Italy, he picks Coogan as his trip mate, they rent a mini, keep the top down and spin through one of the Europe’s most charming country-sides. Being British they are intent on following the trail created by Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron, travel on the water where Shelley took a boat ride in 1822, and continue to jabber on imitating Michael Caine, Christian Bale, Tom Hardy and Al Pacino.
The picture’s one highlight is a dream sequence wherein the two reenact a stabbing in “The Godfather.” If any impersonation could be said to be inspired it’s Rob Brydon’s spoof on the man-in-the-box, as in Pompeii they discover bodies of victims preserved in the lava of the big Vesuvius eruption. They continue to travel through areas in which “Roman Holiday,” “Beat the Devil” and “Voyage to Italy” were filmed.
Unrated. 115 minutes. © 2014 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online
Story – C
Acting – C
Technical – B+
Overall – C