THE TRIP TO GREECE
2020, No MPAA Rating, 103 mins.
Steve Coogan as Steve / Rob Brydon as Rob / Kareem Alkabbani as Kareem / Marta Barrio as Yolanda / Tessa Walker as ChloeDirected by Michael Winterbottom
THE TRIP TO GREECE is the fourth film in director Michael Winterbottom's mockumentary series of films featuring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon - playing loosely fictionalized versions of themselves - traveling to all points of exotic and picturesque locales of the world while engaging in some fine dining.
actually began on the small screen as the BBC series THE TRIP, which in
turn was edited down to form the 2011 feature
film version of the same name.
The two sequels - 2014's THE
TRIP TO ITALY and 2017's THE TRIP TO SPAIN - followed suit (also
edited down from the BBC series), which now brings us to the latest and
apparently last in this quadrilogy. Even
though THE TRIP TO GREECE might not be as side-splittingly hysterical or
fresh as what's come before and the franchise formula is starting to wear
a tad thin, this latest installment still scores huge points for the
endlessly winning tandem of Coogan and Brydon as their odd couple
Of course, the
pair of real life friends are equally gifted on screen comedians, although
neither would admit to being less funny than the other.
Part of the sublime pleasure of experiencing these films - outside
of drinking in all of the absolutely exquisite scenery on display - is in
the spirited level of verbal tomfoolery that the stars get into during
their travels and restaurant stops (this usually involves them performing
hilariously spot-on dueling impressions of famous actors of the silver
screen). The core formula of
these pictures has not changed at all: The duo walks and drives from one stop to the next, which
culminates in them enjoying the greatest food Europe has to offer...and
then the process repeats itself. What
allows for these films to never grow too tedious is just how reliably
amsuing its stars are playing off of one another.
And they both could not be anymore different: Coogan is more
straight cut and serious, whereas Brydon is the more capricious, throw
caution to the wind kind of fella. But
when they banter and bicker...well...that's where (as Han Solo would say)
the fun begins.
The title of this
film is pretty much a plot descriptor.
Brydon and Coogan once again join parties to tour a new country,
this time, yes, Greece, and all while dishing out an endless stream of
acerbic jabs during their driving and eating exploits.
THE TRIP TO GREECE opens with Brydon reciting some verse to begin
their steps to retrace Odysseus's journey home from the Trojan War.
Brydon - doing a pretty bang on Richard Burton impersonation - is
reciting The Iliad, and, rather predictably, Coogan isn't having none of
it. In true Brydon-ian fashion, he looks at the archaeological
Troy site and amusingly deadpans "Yeah, there's not a lot here,"
much to Coogan's chagrin. As
the two depart and journey further in - again, punctuated by a lot of
eating and celebrity impersonations - things take a decidedly darker turn
as far as this series goes. Poor
Steve learns that his dear old dad is severely sick back at home, a vital
tidbit that he doesn't share with his companion on their trek.
The melancholy still punctuates this film as it has past
iterations, especially highlighting the vast distance that Coogan and
Brydon have apart from their loved ones and family back home.
Even Brydon, for as wild eyed and fancy free as he appears,
certainly displays a soft spot for being separated from his clan, even
though he's not dealing with the secret pain of losing a father like
What makes these
TRIP films so effortlessly winning is their economy of approach and, as
previously mentioned, just how naturally likeable Coogan and Brydon are
throughout. Even though both
are wealthy stars (well, perhaps more so with Coogan, as he's probably
more recognizable to western audiences and has had more mainstream success),
they're still relatable and vulnerable souls and suffer from the same
self-loathing insecurities as the best of us.
I think it's their insecurities - and perhaps egos - that make them
so damn competitive on the road, seeing which one can out-funny the other.
Coogan is most guilty of taking himself and his career far more
seriously, which does invite Brydon in to lock his comedic crosshairs on
his pal. One running gag is how much prominence that Coogan places on
his award nominations and wins, which leads to Brydon asking a simple
question (almost as if he knows the answer): "What's the biggest
source of pride for you?" he asks Coogan, to which he deadpans back,
"My seven BAFTAS." Brydon sarcastically retorts that his wife
and kids make his cut.
that truly sum up the core relationship between Coogan and Brydon in all
of these films. Brydon is the always relaxed chill out funnyman looking to
just have a cool time, whereas Coogan thinks of his career and rep too
much while on vacation. It
does appear that Coogan feels that Brydon's comedic sensibilities are a
bit more low brow than his own, which only feeds into Brydon's increasing
disdain of Coogan's career platitudes.
That's not to say that Coogan is unfunny in these films.
Far from it. He scores
as many zingers as his co-star, with one of my favorites being his
commentary on Brydon singing the theme to GREECE while on the road
together ("Are you singing Barry Gibb's GREECE because we're actually
in Greece?"). Of course,
then comes the endless stream of impressions (the series high note was
them trying to out Michael Caine each other, still one of the funniest
movie moments of recent memory). They
both cover their greatest hits in some form or another here, like Marlon
Brando, Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Hugh Grant (Brydon's mimicry here is
spot on) and well as Tom Hardy's Bane (Coogan's version of this is also
eerily accurate in how monosyllabic it is), and when they do spar they're
always trying to relay why the other's impersonation is lacking finesse.
Even when they don't jab away at each other they engage is weird
one-off conversations, like whether Coogan looks like Richard Gere
(spoiler alert - he doesn't).
I haven't talked about Winterbottom much, mostly because he's smart enough of a director to let the remarkable scenery here do much of the talking (the Greece vistas on display here are opulently eye catching and the food that the stars eat is as mouth watering as ever). And he's also shrewd enough to not overwhelm his film with too much style: He just lets the camera linger on Coogan and Brydon as they let their limitless comic skills completely carry the proceedings. Two things separate this sequel from previous ones: (1) There's more repressed sadness on display this go around, mostly in the form of Coogan's concerns over his dying dad and (2) this film is now being released via VOD because of a global pandemic that has made the act of going to the cinema - or travelling to any of the countries that the stars here have over the course of four films - all but impossible now. That latter point has a stinging irony, and may actually and inadvertently turn off passionate travel aficionados from watching this entry. Or, on a healthier note, you can watch THE TRIP TO GREECE and live vicariously through Coogan and Brydon as they pass through one lush European location to the next. Even if you're insanely jealous that you can't venture where they are because of Covid-19 travel restrictions, you'll nevertheless forget such matters from all of the laughing you'll experience because of this tandem's unique ability to tickle our collective funny bones. THE TRIP TO GREECE might be the least of this franchise, but it'll definitely appease its devotees.
And, yes, Greece is still the word.