The Trip To Italy **** (out of five)
There is no definitive recipe for a good – or great – sequel, but many of the good ones are pumped-up, bigger versions of the first that don’t lose what we loved about the first in the first place; see The Road Warrior, The Empire Strikes Back and The Godfather, Part II. Michael Winterbottom’s follow-up to comic masterpiece The Trip is precisely that.
What we loved was intimate, seemingly extempore chat about popular culture – almost entirely film-related – peppered with spot-on impersonations by Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan. We get plenty of that again. Also pleasant were the settings and the food – we get that again too – and the female characters they encounter along the way. Check.
The “pumped-up” aspect of The Trip to Italy is right there in the title (the first, set in the Lake District of England, was definitely a smaller vibe). But do not fear: Winterbottom and his two incredibly generous and charming leads aren’t tempted by any other enhancements. No car chases, villains, disasters, false conflicts or musical numbers here.
I could watch Brydon and Coogan read the phone book, because they’d make it funny. In fact, watching them eat and riff is not far removed from reading a phone book… and it is very, very funny. A total delight from start to finish, and I wish it could just keep going.