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posted: 8/21/2014 5:30 AM

Gire: 'Italy' good, but not as good as its predecessor

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  • Rob Brydon, left, joins Steve Coogan in a strained buddy road trip comedy "The Trip to Italy."

    Rob Brydon, left, joins Steve Coogan in a strained buddy road trip comedy "The Trip to Italy."

  • Video: The Trip to Italy trailer


Mini review: "The Trip to Italy"

If you loved Michael Winterbottom's highly improvised, 2010 comic travelogue "The Trip," you will probably like its sequel "The Trip to Italy." If you liked the first film, you might appreciate the second.

For indeed, as Steve Coogan points out to his co-star Rob Brydon, a sequel never lives up to the original. "It feels like the second album syndrome!" he says.

He's right about his own movie. Four years after hitting the road together, trading quips and lapsing into hilarious celebrity impressions, Coogan and Brydon regroup for a car trip through Europe's Big Boot.

"We're not going to be doing any impressions, are we?" Coogan asks. "We agreed to that."

Had they stuck to that understanding, "The Trip to Italy" might have been a bigger comic challenge for the duo and wrought something new and edgy. Nope. More and more celebrity impressions -- only a few actually funny -- more exchanges of pop culture references, dining on tasty local cuisines and indulging in plenty of manly chat, a virtual duplication of the original "Trip" experience.

True, one of the guys beds down with an Italian woman at the 36-minute mark, allowing this "Trip" to comment superficially on how the performers juggle their needs between family and career while literally on the road.

The duo pontificates on approaching middle-age and how it impacts their relationships with younger women they don't know.

"Women that age look straight through us!" Coogan says. (TV's "thirtysomething" star Timothy Busfield said it better: "When did I suddenly become invisible to women?")

Anytime there's a lull in the movie, Winterbottom cuts to the local kitchens where chefs produce mouthwatering food creations that Helen Mirren would kill for in "The Hundred-Foot Journey."

There's a lot of food footage, too.

"The Trip to Italy" opens at Chicago's Century Centre. Not rated. Contains adult language for mature audiences. 108 minutes. ★ ★

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