Monday, September 29, 2014

The Trip to Italy

There's a scene in Michael Winterbottom's The Trip to Italy where Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon (once again playing "themselves") discuss the disadvantages of doing a second restaurant review column. Coogan argues that a second anything isn't as great as the first. (Brydon only replies "The Godfather Part II.") An ironic discussion considering The Trip to Italy is just as good (if not better than) the first film.

It's true that sequels aren't usually as great as the original film, but what makes The Trip to Italy stand out is that it has the first film's charm. (Most sequels are absent of that.) It's a small detail but one that works in the long run.

Now this may be because I'm a bit of a film and literature snob, but the various references and discussions throughout the film were a nice touch. Whether it's discussing Lord Byron's own trip to Italy or reminiscing over Italy-set films like Contempt or La Dolce Vita, it's simply a detail that those who admire those things will like. (Again, it could just be me.)

Here's a detail that's worth bringing up: in the first film, there was a subplot of Coogan trying to further his own career and improve his personal life. This time around, it's Brydon facing dilemmas. And much like Coogan's work in the first film, Brydon provides some good dramatic moments as well as comedic.

The Trip to Italy is one of the rare instances where the sequel improves on the original. It's charming, funny and, all in all, very entertaining. And is there a better way to take your mind off your troubles than by watching a comedy?

My Rating: ****

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