Synopsis: Actors Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan travel from Troy to Ithaca following in the footsteps of the Odysseus.
Stars: Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon, Claire Keelan, Rebecca Johnson, Tim Leach, Cordelia Bugeja, Tessa Walker, Michael Towns, Marta Barrio, Kareem Alkabbani
Director: Michael Winterbottom
Running Length: 103 minutes
TMMM Score: (8.5/10)
Review: It’s funny how our tastes change over time, isn’t it? Much like how we continue to develop our palate for new foods as we grow, our interest in certain topics and curiosity in outside stimuli remain in flux well into our adulthood. That’s probably why I’ve found myself throughout this time of shelter in place going back through a number of older movies that I’ve seen before when I was much younger but can only really appreciate now. Films like Cabaret or Broadcast News look different when viewed as an adult and newer (to me) titles like North by Northwest (don’t judge) and Sullivan’s Travels are discoveries long overdue.
All this preamble is meant to illustrate is that I can easily see my younger self staying far away from the quartet of films in The Trip series because they wouldn’t have spoken to me until I reached this point in my life. The first film, released in 2010 was an out-of the blue delight and it’s 2014 follow up, The Trip to Italy, took the original premise and found new ways to mine laughs and pathos. If 2017’s The Trip to Spain wasn’t quite in the same league, it was still miles ahead of other comedic endeavors because the series as a whole is so unique to begin with. There’s just nothing quite like it and it’s hard to explain why following around two middle-aged men through various picturesque locales as they quip, nip, and nibble is so incredibly entertaining. So when I got wind that The Trip to Greece was setting sail, I couldn’t wait to escape for another adventure.
Returning once more to play exaggerated versions of their own personas, Steve Coogan (Philomena) and Rob Brydon (Blinded by the Light) are found at the top of the movie in Turkey already at their first stop for their latest road trip. Coogan’s publisher wants him to write a piece that follows the journey of Odysseus across Greece, bringing Brydon along for company and commentary. Together, the men dine at fine restaurants in front of jaw-dropping vistas and stay at luxe accommodations as they see the sights the countryside has to offer. Through some amazing cinematography, it’s the best kind of postcard for Greek tourism the country could ask for…and extra painful right now when all I want to do is travel.
Director Michael Winterbottom (The Look of Love) has a long history with Coogan and Brydon by this point and more so than other entries this feels like it has longer takes with more freedom for the men to improv and riff off of each other. This leads to a series of riotously funny sequences with the competitive guys trying to best the other, be it with impressions of Mick Jagger, determining who can swim better, or who hits the best falsetto notes on an old Demis Roussos song. The comic takedowns are endless and rapid fire, but they are all in good fun and you can easily see how much the two like one another.
While other entries have all had some sort of dramatic interlude that brings the fun fantasy trip back to reality, The Trip to Greece takes a more somber turn than I expected and it’s a jarring transition. This being the supposed final entry in the series (for now at least) I had hoped to see it go out with a different message but I suppose there’s a take away from where we last see both men as the film draws to a close. I won’t spoil the ending for you but when you reflect back on all the places we’ve traveled with Steve and Rob and all the wonderful meals we’ve shared with them, you realize that it truly is about the journey and not so much about the destination.