By Lynn Venhaus
Over the past decade, actor-comedian Steve Coogan and his best friend, actor-comedian Rob Brydon, have taken us on excursions that showcase scenic countrysides, stunning panoramic vistas, exquisite meals and luxurious comfort in northern England, Italy, Spain and Greece.
For their fourth movie in “The Trip” series, the bickering buddies travel from Troy to Ithaca following in the footsteps of the Odysseus.
They only have six days but manage to hit The Temple of Apollo at Delphi, the Ancient Agora of Athens, the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus, the unique island of Hydra, the Caves of Diros, Nestor’s Palace, Kiokastro Fortress in Pylos and Ancient Stagira, as well as destination restaurants and luxury hotels.:
While the locales are breathtaking, what makes this more than a fancy travelogue is the witty showbiz banter. The scripts are largely improvised and while they are playing heightened versions of themselves, the film is fiction. Therefore, the family stories aren’t real – but seem authentic.
The erudite pair dispense nuggets of facts about their whereabouts while they show off their wit. Experts at impressions, the pair try to one-up each other as they mimic famous celebrities. Their riff on Dustin Hoffman movies is impressive.
They also argue, with topics sparked by being at the cradle of drama, democracy and views of the country’s ancient history. The observational humor is what I most look forward to, whether they are quipping while driving or breaking bread.
Both men gained prominence for characters created on BBC television shows, and this series started on television. Coogan has more well-known film roles, usually playing jerks or clueless blowhards, and co-wrote the Oscar-nominated “Philomena.” But even if you are not familiar with their work, or the other films in this series, that does not detract from this movie.
This time, however, their personal odyssey has both tragedy and comedy, some genuine pathos.
Nevertheless, it’s another enjoyable romp. They had me at the azure Aegean Sea.
A version of this film appeared in the Webster-Kirkwood Times online. “The Trip to Greece” comedy-drama is not rated. Directed by Michael Winterbottom, it stars Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. Runtime is: 1 hr. 43 min. Lynn’s Grade: B+. Now available on Video on Demand
Lynn Venhaus has had a continuous byline in St. Louis metro region publications since 1978. She is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic, currently reviews films for Webster-Kirkwood Times and KTRS Radio, covers entertainment for PopLifeSTL.com and co-hosts podcast PopLifeSTL.com…Presents, and writes features and news for Belleville News-Democrat and contributes to other publications. She is a member of CCA, AWFJ and St. Louis Film Critics Association. She is a founding member of the St. Louis Theater Circle.