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On Your Radar: Film Review Trip to Italy
by Karen Pecota

Road trips are meant to be shared. Filmmaker Michael Winterbottom, could not imagine a better road trip than with two of his favorite comedians, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. Likewise, the comedian duo could not imagine a better opportunity than with a film director, Winterbottom, who\'s not afraid to give them the right-of-way for improv or comedic relief for a full-length feature film.

In 2010, Winterbottom set the two comedians, Steve (Steve Coogan) and Rob (Rob Brydon) on a culinary road trip through northern England. A scripted film? What would be the use with seasoned entertainers, sharing a journey while enjoying a foreign people, their cuisine and a land that makes them unique. Steve and Rob connect on a variety of levels but most endearing is the use of their wit and skilled observations while giving England a culinary critique. A comedians heaven. Winterbottom only needed his cameras rolling to catch the two men  naturally improvising in every scene. The delightful performance from Coogan and Brydon, made specifically for the big screen, left the audiences wanting more.

The virtue of a film sequel by filmmaker Michael Winterbottom is reprised in 2013 with The Trip to Italy. Three years after The Trip in 2010, Winterbottom invites Steve and Rob to join him on a new culinary tour through the romantic countryside of Italy. The comedic-duo quickly sign-on, without hesitation, to once again share the road together: critiquing life while concentrating on food and the environment. Winterbottom’s narrative begins when the two comedians reunite for the Italian culinary road trip.

On assignment for The Observer, Coogan and Rob, give a set of restaurant reviews (as in The Trip). They retrace the steps of the Romantic poets\' grand tour of Italy. Enjoy six meals in six different locations from Liguria through Tuscany, Rome, Amalfi to Capri. Neither restaurants or hotels know nothing of their tour de critique.

Steve is tired of the demands of his job in Los Angeles that take him away from his children.  Taking time off to come back to Europe satisfies his long to be with his children.

Rob is simply tired of parental duties to keep up with an energetic, young child. The new tour excites his longing for adult adventure.

Steve and Rob quickly warm up to their culinary itinerary. Traveling at record speed. They settle-in to share together more than the assignment given. The hotels and restaurants are exquisite. Of course, Byron and Shelly often come up in conversation and the effects of the Italian life-style that influenced their literary expertise. Dialogue about life, love, work and living away from their native country.

Steve and Rob enjoy their assignment but their personal issues go unresolved. The road trip with Winterbottom puts their own life journey in perspective. The end of their adventure brings them closer to understanding that life has meaning--beyond what words can express. But, not without a price.