It's rare that you see a sequel to a fun but little-known film like The Trip. Premiering in 2010, The Trip chronicled Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon's (playing fictional versions of themselves) trip through the UK to tour the country's finest restaurants. The joy in the film came from watching these two friends converse over jokes and impressions while indulging in some truly beautiful food. Plot wasn't really necessary. In their follow-up, The Trip to Italy, again directed by Michael Winterbottom, much the same fun is had "“ just in Italy instead of the UK.
While I never want to be one to say that sequels should just be exactly what their originals were, The Trip to Italy's downfall was that it tried to do more than its predecessor. Don't get me wrong, at the heart of this film is still two friends traipsing through beautiful scenery and eating beautiful food while doing off-the-wall impressions of various movie stars and saturating scenes with that classic dry British wit. However, there's a sprinkling of actual plot in The Trip to Italy. While the first one had Coogan as the habitual jerk and Brydon as the affable friend, this one tries to develop their characters more to prove that both individuals have their flaws. But really, who came to this movie to see fleshed-out fictional characters based on real people? Their attempts at plot were tolerable at best and distracting at worst.
That said, much of The Trip to Italy does what Coogan and Brydon do best "“ let you peek into the wacky and witty conversations of two friends who happen to be comedians. There are impressions and cultural references galore. They of course bring back their stellar Michael Caine impression and add a bevy of others, quoting Shakespeare in one instant and The Godfather the next. Topics range from Lord Byron to Tom Hardy in The Dark Knight Rises. It's definitely an arthouse film, relying heavily on dialogue with inconsequential plot pieces sprinkled here and there. But once you latch on to their flow of conversation, you feel privileged to listen to their conversations, mostly improvised.
Overall, The Trip to Italy stands up well with its predecessor. You'll leave the theater in love with their banter and the Italian countryside, and you might just have to run to the nearest Italian place to fulfill the insane pasta craving this film gives you. After that, you'll just have to wait and guess where the next installment will take place, as I'm sure it will eventually happen. America, maybe?