By Dennis Hartley
(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on September 6, 2014)
There’s a great exchange between returning leads Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon in The Trip to Italy, Michael Winterbottom’s follow-up to the trio’s 2011 road comedy, The Trip, regarding “the sophomore curse” in cinema. Coogan proclaims that sequels are never as good as the original; instantly regretting his statement when Brydon quickly deadpans “…except, of course, for Godfather II…” and proceeds to rattle off a number of other superior sequels whilst Coogan furiously (and hilariously) attempts to backpedal. You can add this sequel to that list.
Using a similar setup, the pair of actor-comedian pals hit the road for another restaurant tour, making a scenic upgrade from England’s Lake District to Italy’s sunny Mediterranean coast. Once again, they play slightly elevated caricatures of themselves. The comic riffing (the main reason to watch) is as brilliant as previous; covering everything from armchair psychoanalysis of Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill album to dueling Michael Caine impressions and geriatric Roger Moore jabs (“Cubby…did you get my note about the handrails?”). There’s also a more pronounced melancholic element in this outing (middle-aged malaise comes to us all). Also as before, the film was whittled down from a six-episode BBC mini-series.