Skip’s Quips: Help! My Ears Got Punished During ‘The Trip to Italy’

Blog Sketch 082813Who doesn’t like movies about a couple of guys taking a trip to Italy to dine at fancy restaurants while doing interminable impersonations of assorted celebrities?

I don’t. And consequently, I didn’t care for Michael Winterbottom’s disastrously unfunny The Trip to Italy at all.

I wasn’t a big fan of The Trip, the film’s picaresque predecessor, but at least the concept, which involved Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon doing impressions during meals at various restaurants in England, was somewhat novel at the time. Its sequel, however, is not so lucky. In fact, many of the impersonations (Michael Caine, Al Pacino) seem to be rehashed from the original film, leaving the viewer wondering if they have anything actually new up their sleeves to bring to the table.

It’s quite an awkward mix, this picture, what with the “comedy” (basically Coogan and Brydon talking over each other without offering much context) juxtaposed with shots of food and Italian landscapes … though the cuisine and scenery seem to be extraneous, playing second fiddle to the duo’s tedious, presumably improvised schtick.

I’m sorry, but I like my comedy cooked throughout, not half-baked. And The Trip to Italy is so underdone it’s raw.

One of the biggest problems with the flick is that it’s not cinematic. It’s a collection of episodes punctuated by flat humor and pseudo-philosophical asides. You’d be hard pressed to find another picture in recent years that dwells so much on quotes provided by Shelley and Byron. But you’d also be hard-pressed to find one that trivializes their work so frustratingly by making fleeting references to them and not following up with any further insight. That’s pretentious, fellow viewers, and makes for problematic movie-watching. I like my Shelley and Byron well-done, too. Not the way The Trip to Italy cooks them up.

I’m not sure what the market is for this kind of thing; it can’t be too large. It’s definitely not my kind of comedy. All I can say is I hope a third installment isn’t in the works. Making this series into a trilogy would just be too much cinematically to bear.

Setter’s ‘Spectives: Leaving Halfway Through ‘The Trip’

Setter Drawing for Blog 082613Films that think they’re funnier than they actually are bug me.

The Trip is one of those. The documentary-esque story of two friends (Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon) journeying through Northern England as they dine at fancy restaurants and do not-always-successful impressions of famous actors, this film is only sporadically amusing and meanders quite a bit. I guess that’s the point, but it’s virtually without any conflict whatsoever, and that wears on me. Hence, I was only able to get halfway through the movie before leaving it last night for the comfort of my bed.

Ah, to sleep, perchance to dream … of movies that are much better than The Trip.

Coogan’s a talented actor; I like him a lot. If I wanted to watch a series of impressions, however, I’d digest some stand-up comedy. A movie filled with impressions as a substitute for funny business just isn’t my cuppa tea. Plus Coogan and Brydon are always talking over each other, so after a while their efforts become grating. The ability to generate laughter is lost.

Ultimately, the feeling I got about The Trip is that it tries to hard. I don’t like to watch a film flailing around. I prefer something with direction. In general, this Trip doesn’t have drive. And I don’t regret stopping it halfway one bit.