Friday, August 29, 2014

The Trip to Italy Movie Review

Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan (r) in The Trip to Italy

Recreation Meets Survival = Boredom

Barely 10 minutes into Michael Winterbottom's insipid The Trip to Italy, star Steve Coogan remarks, 'I'm surprised The Observer wants us to do this again.' So was I. The Trip to Italy marks only the third time, I've walked out of a movie as an "official" film critic: The other two were Cosmopolis and Pacific Rim. Winterbottom's sequel (luckily, I never saw the first one) makes three. I survived 40 minutes of this unnatural disaster (including a five-minute nap) and had to wake my Aunt, to tell her we should leave. Beforehand, three other people made an early exit; and I can only hope, more followed.

Rotten Tomatoes Plot: Michael Winterbottom's largely improvised 2010 film, The Trip, took comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon - or semi-fictionalized versions thereof - on a restaurant tour around northern England. In this witty and incisive follow-up, Winterbottom reunites the pair for a new culinary road trip, retracing the steps of the Romantic poets' grand tour of Italy and indulging in some sparkling banter and impersonation-offs. Rewetting 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 "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 and the juggling of family and career. The result is a biting portrait of modern-day masculinity.

What’s Best: Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

What’s Not: There's nothing worse than watching someone who thinks they're funny, cough up one failed joke after another; yet that's all Brydon (and to a lesser extent, Coogan) does for 40 minutes. The pair drive around (and sail across) Italy, stopping for quick bites and long stand-up sit-down routines. In between, Winterbottom clumsily cuts to brief (as in five seconds or less) shots of cooking in restaurant kitchens; before rushing back to hear Brydon's arsenal of impersonations. Michael Caine, Hugh Grant, Tom Hardy, Tony HopkinsAl Pacino... Enough already! Sadly, Brydon can't seem to shut up at all (even when he's alone in his hotel room.) It's even worse when he and Coogan talk at the same time. They barely discuss food at all... preferring to toss around quotes from Garrison Keillor and Lord Byron.

Brydon (a TV presenter, in his spare time) is so dreadful, he's a shoo-in for worst actor of the year... assuming talking incessantly counts as acting. Coogan ultimately gets a pass, given his impressive resume; and the fact that he looks painfully uncomfortable doing this (whatever this is.)

Worst Line: Brydon pokes fun (and I use that term very loosely) at Tom Hardy's vocal talents in The Dark Knight Rises with, 'I can Hardy understand what you're saying,' Ugh. A close second? Brydon asks Coogan, 'What will people remember of us, in 200 years?' Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Overall: Can you imagine Frank Caliendo and Kevin Pollak sitting down in a fancy restaurant, exchanging impersonations for each other's amusement? Of course not. It would look absolutely ridiculous (not to mention self-serving.) The Trip to Italy is every traveler's nightmare... a movie that stumbles along, boring everyone in its path. Even worse, the parts that don't take place in restaurants. Alanis Morissette sing-alongs, frivolous adultery and listless photo ops. Boring, boring, boring.