The Film (4.5/5)
There aren't many pairings between director and actor in modern film that I find myself actively seeking out their work as it comes out. However, one of those very few pairings would be that of Michael Winterbottom with Steve Coogan. From the first film of the duo's that I saw the Manchester music scene historical 24 Hour Party People to their loose adaptation of Tristram Shandy I have found their work to be an absolute delight. I will admit that I have yet to see the pairs a Look of Love, but I have lamented the fact since its release. However, their finest hour may be the BBC series turned movie they did in 2010 with fellow comedian Rob Brydon (Gavin and Stacey), The Trip.
The Trip was a simple concept executed extremely well. It was a six episode series edited together by Winterbottom and IFC in the states into a long cinematic experience that followed Coogan and Brydon (playing exaggerated versions of themselves) as they visited restaurants throughout the North of England for an article Coogan was assigned to write for a newspaper. Throughout the two deeply converse, and play off each other as only two great comedians can, creating extremely natural, but very funny situations.
The Trip to Italy follows that concept in much the same way. It too started as a BBC Six Part series, and was similarly edited for it's U.S. theatrical release. For the sequel Rob Brydon has been charged by the same magazine to tour Italy, following the locations of some of the romantic poets. As it turns out he ended up writing the article in the first film that Steve Coogan was hired to do, and calls Coogan in a reversal of the last film's opening. The two pair up and begin to explore Italy and the various restaurants along the way with a copy of Alanis Morrisette's Jagged Little Pill as their only musical companion (sorry guys).
Both films in the Trip sequence have felt like a balanced pairing between their two comedic leads, however, the first film had more of it's plot progression fall onto Coogan, whereas the Trip to Italy feels the reverse. The character development and plotting feels more on the Rob Brydon side of the coin. This is not to say that Coogan is neglected in the film, it just feels that while watching that more of the events that occur seem to unfold around Brydon.
The Trip to Italy could be considered less of a sequel to the original series, and more of a companion to the original film. I might be looking at it in this regard simply, because of the enjoyment I took from the film even though elements such as the impersonation segments were simply call backs from the earlier film. That being said the film is a blast to watch, and if one is a fan of the first film, then it is likely that the viewer will find much to love with the Trip to Italy as well. It is a laugh out loud, fun time for the indie crowd. I would not decline a third entry as Coogan and Brydon have a chemistry that is certainly timeless in the comedy realm.
IFC has presented The Trip to Italy in a stunning 1:85:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer preserving the original aspect ratio of the presentation. The transfer here is absolutely stunning, and everything from the colors presented to the level of detail present will certainly stun the viewer, once they stop laughing.
The audio is presented with 2 English audio options both with optional subtitles. We have a DTS-HD MA 5.1 track and a PCM 2.0 track. Both tracks do the film justice with the dialogue coming through nice and clear as well as the films score, and of course, the Alanis.
Sadly, not much here with the exception of deleted scenes, the films trailer, and trailers for other IFC releases.
The Trip to Italy is one of 2014's great comedies. If you are a fan of the first one, or simply interested in a great indie comedy with a pair of excellent comics at its center this is certainly a must watch. The A/V on the Blu-ray looks and sounds fantastic, but the release is sorely lacking in extras. The film itself comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. The package as a whole is RECOMMENDED.