Last week, Land Ho, a refreshing low-budget film about two sixtysomethings on a trip to Iceland, warmed the hearts of those who saw it at the Cedar Lee. This week, Trip to Italy, a snoozerino about two fiftyish guys taking just what the title says, ought to bore the living daylights out of most well-intentioned moviegoers who go to the Cedar Lee Theatre to see it when it opens on Friday.
Trip to Italy is, of course, a sequel to the 2010 comedy The Trip, and features the exact same comedic style and substance of its predecessor but in a lush new setting. The original found British actor-comedians Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan playing semi-fictionalized versions of themselves as they traipsed around Northern England, eating at all the fanciest restaurants and staying at charming country hotels, ostensibly for a piece in the food section of a prominent U.K. news outlet. Ditto with the sequel — "They want us to do it again!" — only now the swashbuckling culinary duo gets to putz around Italy for a week.
For most of the film's overlong 107 minutes, Coogan and Brydon riff on subjects as variegated as The Dark Knight Rises and Alanis Morrissette, navigating the winding Italian roads in their Mini Cooper, stuffing themselves with ravioli at any number of haute or off-the-beaten-path Italian restaurants and whiling away the twilight hours on assorted yachts and verandas. They do all their best impressions — Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, Marlon Brando (it is Italy, after all), Michael Caine, Hugh Grant — and self-effacingly talk about their celebrity and their generic mid-life crises. Meanwhile, they vaguely retrace the physical and intellectual paths of British romantic poets in self-exile. Snore.
Beyond the truly remarkable impressions — Brydon's Hugh Grant is impeccable — occasional "crackling banter" between the two stars and some lovely Italian scenery, the film has very little to recommend it. It's a broad, discursive advertisement for Italian tourism masquerading as a docu-buddy-comedy. It's "scenes of funny British men having non-urgent conversations." This is the stuff of weekly podcasts, not film.
And look, if you're very wealthy, have nothing but time on your hands and happen to be considering a vacation to Rome or Naples, Trip to Italy certainly showcases an array of high-end hotel options and sumptuous (if fish-heavy) entrees. Otherwise, you'll be scratching your head through the endless Godfather variations and one 10-minute improvised scene about Bane and Batman, pondering the paradox that though this is a movie about a trip, it doesn't really go anywhere.