The Trip to Greece
We have travelled with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon in their culinary journeys through the north of England, Spain and Italy since 2010. Now, the boys take to the roads once again to sample the foodie delights of another country and to cut us up with their amusing banter all along the way in "The Trip to Greece."
Laura's Review: B
Ten years after highly competitive comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon took their first foodie trip through England’s Lake District, they return for a fourth and final journey, this time following in the footsteps of Odysseus as he left Troy to return to his wife in Ithaca in “The Trip to Greece.”
After director Michael Winterbottom took his lads to Spain, this formulaic foodie franchise felt like it had run out of gas, yet despite the fourth film following exactly the same beats as the three previous entries, Greece turns out to be a much more worthy sendoff.
On Monday, Coogan and Brydon remark that it is odd that they are actually beginning their trip in Turkey as they are served lamb chops in a stunning outdoor setting. As is his wont, Brydon mercilessly skewers his more uptight friend, cracking Coogan up with his running monologue on just how boring the story Steve just told was before launching into back handed compliments on his portrayal of Stan Laurel. This leads, of course, to impersonations of Stan Laurel and TOM Hardy.
Upon arrival in Greece, Steve’s name is shouted by Kareem Alkabbani ("Greed"), Brydon noting that Coogan has difficulty remembering his costar. A lift is offered that opens both men’s eyes to the plight of refugees, Kareem headed to a camp, before more carefree travel finds Rob singing the theme song from ‘Grease,’ much to Steve’s annoyance.
Although food and the serious-as-death kitchens that prepare it are featured throughout, the focus they were once given is a now downplayed, wondrous meals mere background for conversation. What has remained constant are the literary and historical themes, the newspaper assignment from the Observer, Coogan fretting about a film role, the arrival of Steve's personal assistant Emma (Claire Keelan) and photographer Yolanda (Marta Barrio), the pairs’ differing relationships with their children and a finale which finds Brydon happy and Coogan sad, just like the drama masks the pair are photographed with here.
We are treated to multiple ancient Greek tourist sites and sparkling seaside vistas. An overhead shot of a swim race challenge between the two men ends with a laugh as Brydon navigates beach pebbles in bare feet. We are here for their company, and they do not disappoint, a mention of Greek marathons leading to “Marathon Man” complete with Olivier impersonations and Brydon’s impersonation of a dentist’s drill. There is so little repetition on the impersonation front this time, that we almost feel relief when Brydon slips in Connery just under the wire.
The film wraps with our two protagonists separated, Steve facing tragedy but finding comfort in an expected place, while Rob continues to enjoy himself with his wife, flown out to meet him. It’s a most satisfactory ending. How these three collaborators never chose to eat and drink their way through France, though, is a question that will apparently remain unanswered.
Robin's Review: B
This fourth collaboration between Michael Winterbottom and his stars is supposed to be the last in the “Trip” series – but, we will see about that. As such, it is a bounce back from the less-intriguing “The Trip to Spain” and embraces the formula established in the first road trip through England.
Of course, as a fan of the “Trip” movies, I always enjoy the mirthful banter, the many celebrity impersonations and recitations of Shakespeare. You, as I, of course, wait for the film’s Sean Connery moment and, of course, you get it. My biggest surprise (and modest disappointment) was waiting for the inevitable Michael Caine moment and….
This trip has a dual purpose. The first and most obvious is to travel with the boys and check out the wonderful food prepared at some really classy restaurants. The food preparation, which was prominent in first “The Trip,” is handled in a more cursory way the fourth time around, leaving more time for the Rob and Steve show.
There is another unique aspect to “The Trip to Greece” that I found intriguing but not capitalized on by the filmmakers. The journey the boys make parallels that of Odysseus in Homer’s Iliad from Turkey to Macedonia to Greece, proper, stopping along the way to give us a little Greek culture. It is an amiable journey and, if it is the last, I am going to miss the boys.