| LOS ANGELES
LOS ANGELES Jan 25 The food is better, the
weather is warmer and the landscapes are more exquisite, but
middle-aged comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon are still in a
funk in new film "The Trip to Italy."
British actors Coogan and Brydon, both 48, reunited with
director Michael Winterbottom in Italy for a sequel to their
cult comedy "The Trip," a mockumentary where the two play
fictionalized versions of themselves on a week-long culinary
trip for a newspaper.
In the new film, which premiered this week at the Sundance
Film Festival, Coogan and Bryon take a Mini Cooper car to roam
idyllic Italian landscapes, with a soundtrack provided by Alanis
Morissette's "Jagged Little Pill" album, the only CD the men
have in their car.
They stop at various restaurants from Tuscany and Rome to
the Amalfi coast and Capri to sample the country's famed
delicacies in beautiful rustic and coastal restaurants.
"It was an amazing experience, we were at some of the most
beautiful places in the world. It was spellbinding scenes
everywhere we went, and we diminished it all by talking crap,"
Coogan quipped with the Sundance audience after the premiere.
The lunches are smattered with Coogan and Brydon riffing off
each other with their now-famous impressions of well-known
actors, including Sean Connery, Michael Caine and Hugh Grant,
often masking underlying competitiveness between the two.
In one scene, Coogan and Brydon end up reenacting a scene
from the third installment of Batman film "The Dark Knight,"
impersonating Christian Bale, Tom Hardy and Caine.
"The Trip to Italy" will be lengthened into six half-hour
episodes to air on BBC television in April, following the same
model as "The Trip." The film version will be released in the
U.S. by IFC Films.
AN ITALIAN ODYSSEY
At an intimate dinner with journalists at Sundance,
Winterbottom said "The Trip to Italy" added a new chapter to the
two characters' lives.
"The first film was more about the food, and this film is
about their journey. Both men are lost, and they go on this
odyssey to find themselves," the director told Reuters.
"The Trip" is led by Coogan, who takes Brydon to accompany
him to sample the food of Northern counties in England,
including his hometown of Manchester. In Italy, the journey is
led by Brydon, and the duo visit landmarks associated with
British Romantic poets Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Bryon.
In the film, Brydon is dealing with a disconnect in his
marriage, which he attempts to escape with a holiday affair.
Coogan is dealing with the disappointment of his fictional U.S.
television show being canceled, and tries to reconnect with his
In real life, Coogan's career in Hollywood is faring much
better, with his work on drama "Philomena" earning him two Oscar
nominations, for best original script and best picture.
Winterbottom said "The Trip to Italy" was more scripted than
the first film, with both the physical and emotional journey of
the two characters mapped out. Brydon added that they were given
a framework, which they "colored in" with their jovial
conversations, laced with dry humor and acerbic wit.
Both Coogan and Brydon said they didn't know if they would
do another installment of "The Trip," saying they've exhausted
"Restaurants have become like work to me. All I want to do
is go home, sit on my sofa and eat grilled cheese on toast,"
(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by James Dalgleish)