★★★★ - STUFF
- After sampling the cuisines of the Lakes District and the lands of La Dolce Vitaand The Man of La Mancha, Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan are back for a fourth and allegedly final course of gastronomic delights and competitive celebrity mimicry.
This time their battleground is not the English dales and valleys that inspired Wordsworth and Coleridge, following in the footsteps of Byron and Shelley in Italy, or exploring Cervantes' and Laurie Lee's Espana, but rather retracing Greek hero Odysseus’ journey from Troy to Ithaca.
But whereas, according to Homer’s epic poem Odyssey, it took him 10 years, our dynamic duo have just six days. In their favour, they have a rental car and the opportunity to partake in some of the area’s finest culinary delights. But while Brydon bounces along soaking up the culture, history and the last of the jus, Coogan is troubled by his father’s failing health back home.
After the darker turn of events in 2017’s Trip to Spain, this feels like a return to the lighter fare of the first two outings. One last victory lap for the pair.
Even Coogan himself describes it as being “like Top Gear, but without the prehistoric, Neanderthal world views”. That’s one of a number of pithy, cutting observations about British culture on display. The Oscar-winning Chariots of Fire is dismissed as “some posh kids from Oxford learn how to run really fast – The End”, while the Bee Gees’ are lightly lambasted for calling their 1979 song Tragedy when it really is “just depression”.
Of course, what fans really want to see, apart from the mouthwatering creations being concocted in the various kitchens, is the bantering, bickering and celebrity impression battles that have punctuated the series (the cinematic versions we see are actually boiled down from six half-hour installments which air on British TV). I’m pleased to report, Greece delivers these in spades. Coogan playfully dismisses Brydon as the king of “accessible light entertainment” who knows more about trivialities than ancient Greece, while Brydon can’t resist suggesting that Coogan’s “expertise” comes from playing Hades in a Percy Jackson movie and constantly pokes fun at his colleague’s recent turn as Stan Laurel, admitting that he watched it on a Bafta screener and “only paused it three times”.
Stan and Ollie is also the source of one of their many "what if" scenarios, as they spitball a pairing of Stan Laurel and Tom Hardy’s Bane, before chortling over the idea of Ray Winstone playing Henry VIII. Weightier discussions about CPR techniques, dentistry and the appropriate age you should stop wearing a t-shirt with a logo on it are had, but it usually isn’t long before these conversations turn into Jagger-contests, Brando-offs or Hoffman-battles, as the pair unleash their range of celebrity impressions.
It's true, like the overall movie itself, that won’t be for everyone: Coogan himself describes travelling with Brydon as “entertaining, but exhausting”, from which the immediate response is, “Good god, you should meet you”.
However, there’s just something endlessly endearing and engrossing about watching these two try to outwit, outsmart and just try to make each other laugh. Which you can expect to do many times during this warm, witty and welcome bromantic odyssey.
- James Croot, STUFF
The Trip to Greece is now playing at Light House Cinema!