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~Downstairs at the Savoy~

The Trip to Italy

Now Playing

Not Rated; 115 minutes

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Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly (excerpted)

In 2011, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon starred in The Trip, Michael Winterbottom's largely improvised road movie about two comedians (named Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon) who accept a magazine assignment to travel around northern England's Lake District and sample the region's finer restaurants. The larkish pleasure of the film was the carbonated chemistry between the two professional cutups: Coogan, the acerbic, hilariously self-centered "star", and Brydon, a whip-smart Welsh mimic who fires off impressions of Michael Caine and Hugh Grant like a parrot manning a howitzer.

Now Winterbottom and his two merry midlife muses have recycled the recipe and returned with seconds — and it's just as soulful and silly. In a rented Mini Cooper convertible, the two hopscotch from Rome to the Amalfi Coast to Capri, twirling endless courses of pasta while tracing the footsteps of the poets Byron and Shelley. That may sound a tad highbrow, but it doesn't take long for Coogan and Brydon to bust out their dueling impersonations of Al Pacino and the various James Bonds, or wax philosophical about Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill.

Bubbling beneath all of the riffing are the duo's unspoken anxieties about their careers (Coogan is always quick to passive-aggressively point out that he's a bigger star than his pal riding shotgun), their complicated marriages (their lack of fidelity masking an unwillingness to grow up), and aging (Brydon's one-sided conversation with a plaster-cast Pompeii mummy is one of the film's most touching moments). At its heart, The Trip to Italy is more than just a travelogue about food. It's about friendship and the appetite for experience we all share.

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