And so begins the sequel to the very meta, post-modern The Trip. The Trip to Italy features, again, Coogan and Brydon, playing themselves, albeit exaggerated and altered versions of themselves. The sequel is very much in the same spirit as the first. They travel to restaurants and hotels, eat food, and discuss life, celebrity, and the craft of acting. It's like My Dinner with Andre, but with discussions about the appreciation for Alanis Morissette and Michael Buble.
We see a little
The change of scenery is much need, too. It is absolutely beautiful. James Clarke, the cinematographer, framed and lit everything gorgeously, and to the often looked over but completely necessary location scout who picked the greatest beach locales in Italy. Not only did the setting prove to be breathtaking, but it played into the boys (I will call them "boys") conversation of artistry and death. The loose connection between all of the stops was Lord Bryon, whose debaucherous lifestyle is both admirable and cautionary. There are many motifs of the afterlife, causing the two to contemplate, causing obvious middle aged panic. A visit to the site of Pompeii not only signals a time of reflection, but results in Brydon doing his "Man in a Box" routine (and it's probably the most hilarious segment of the movie.)
The problem with The Trip to Italy is that these gags and scene go on way to long. Most of the movie is extended pop culture imitations that turn into a pissing contest between the two. They rehash their Michael Caine and their James Bond; it was all cute the first time, but this was redundant. I was bored for the first for the first half hour because it was just a repeat. They end up switching it up throughout the movie with some Robert Di Nero and Al Pacino, but I was fatigued by the end. I know that I can chalk it up to not being exactly my sense of humor, but these impersonation tirades are comparable two friends who won't let a good joke die.
The sequel was totally made for the big fans of the first, but it's a lost cause for those who opposed The Trip, or even those who kind of enjoyed the original. The spices are slightly different, but the dish is the same. It's a shame because there is an obvious self-awareness in this series. I just wish the creators could push that keen perception outwards and look through the audience's eyes. If only they followed Coogan's advice from the start and saw the folly in doing a followup.