Monday, August 11, 2014

A sequel full of food, fun, scenery & impressions: Michael Winterbottom's THE TRIP TO ITALY

If you loved (or hated or fell anywhere in between) Michael Winterbottom's earlier The Trip, his new lark, THE TRIP TO ITALY should keep you pretty much in that same frame of mind. If anything, this one's even a bit easier to enjoy because the scenery is a lot better -- not to mention the hotels and food (if only we could taste it!). The earlier movie had our enterprising duo Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon playing themselves and touring Britain's finest restaurants. This new film does the same -- but in Italy. 'Nuff said?

Yes, we get the same constant wordplay, humor, impersonations and competitiveness that Coogan and Brydon (above, right and left, respectively) produce when they rub up against each other. Though, this time, all of it is tempered with some other interesting stuff: family (some of whom join the pair en route), and -- gosh, can it really be so? -- a little empathy from the guys  toward each other.

Filmmaker Winter-bottom, shown at left, is master of versatility. He rarely does the same thing twice. Perhaps, due to the surprise success of The (first) Trip, he's repeating himself for once. And we can be grateful for it. This fellow, who more often than not dabbles in very dark places -- from his first film, Butterfly Kiss, onwards through I Want You, Wonderland, The Claim, The Road to Guantanamo, The Killer Inside Me and Trishna -- might also have been delighted to tackle some out-and-out comedy again.

For their part Coogan and Brydon are as delightful as ever, whether giving us more of their Michael Caine interpretations, or Pacino or De Niro and on and on. Or finally, bonding a bit with wife or offspring and trying provide some husbandly/fatherly advice and/or affection.

Movies like this tend to be rather short. Interestingly, Winterbottom and his boys see to it that the humor and interest don't flag for the entire 108-minute running time (the initial Trip lasted 107). Well, that gorgeous scenery does change, as do the cities, hotels and food.  As someone once demanded, "What's not to like?"

The Trip to Italy, from IFC Films, opens this Friday, August 15, in New York City at the IFC Center and the Lincoln Plaza Cinema; it is said to be opening in Los Angeles this coming Friday, as well, but I have not been able to determine at which theaters.  (The following Fridays, Aug 22 and 29, it will open at various Laemmle theaters around the L.A. area.)

No comments: