A sequel to The Trip, from 2010, this is also wonderfully acted, achingly funny, unexpectedly reflective and a foodie’s dream to boot.
After the well-received results of their tour of northern England in the first film, friends Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon (playing fictionalised versions of themselves), embark on another journey at the behest of The Observer. This time round, they are sent to Italy, where they follow in the footsteps of the Romantic poets Shelley and Byron, through Liguria, Tuscany, Rome, Amalfi and Capri. Engaged in both fierce one-upmanship and firm friendship, the duo eat and talk their way through six great meals and countless hilarious topics.
The back and forth between our leads is consistently brilliant. At one meal, Brydon quips to Coogan: ‘I’m your enabler’, and it couldn’t be truer. With Brydon there as a capable and clever foil, Coogan’s responses are as quick as his wit. His performance has an edge of sadness to it, which reflects perfectly his pseudo-character’s obsession with fame and being more recognised than Rob.
Excelling both at the meal tables and in the quiet time spent in his own room, Rob Brydon is the ideal complement to Coogan. More down to earth and approachable, his persona is cosier, and he is unafraid to endure embarrassment in the name of inducing laughter from other people in the diegetic frame and the audience.
Moreover, Brydon still manages to uncover new facets of his identity for those familiar with the first film, when the pressures of his young family back in England begin to impact on him. The comedy – which is largely improvised – deals in physical gags, puns, cultural references, impersonations and screwball banter, and they are truly are masters of this significant range.
Their impersonations move from Michael Caine and Al Pacino to Sean Connery and Michael Parkinson, with the pair’s impromptu rendition of a fictional appearance of Coogan on Parkinson’s chat show being a highlight. The other actors in the film play their roles very well also, especially Clair Keelan as Steve’s agent, and – just as in the first film – it took me until the credits to realise that they were not actually playing themselves like our two protagonists.
- Callum Ryan, ACOFB
Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon, Clair Keelan, Rosie Fellner. Directed by Michael Winterbottom. 103 minutes.Rated M (Coarse language)