Over the past decade, comedians Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan with director Michael Winterbottom have been uniting for a series of semi-fictional travelogues through European countries as they exchange witty banter, soak up the gorgeous scenery, and dine at luxurious restaurants in The Trip, The Trip to Italy, The Trip to Spain, and now The Trip to Greece. The various Trip films don’t offer much in the way of surprises – you know exactly what you’re going to get – and therein lies their magnificence. Especially now, in this era where restaurants are shuttered and travel restricted, the idea of a lovely trek through Greece with two funny and cultured friends seems like some kind of fantasy, and The Trip to Greece provides that much-needed for of escapism as for nearly two hours you can leave the confines of quarantine.
Unlike previous installments, The Trip to Greece doesn’t spend any time setting up its premise, opting to plop Brydon and Coogan in Turkey where they’ll follow Odysseus’ path from Homer’s The Odyssey through Greece. Along the way, the two comedians working as travel writers will make minor detours to visit landmarks and quaint meals at local eateries. The combination of the majestic scenery and the impeccably prepared food might make one feel a tinge of sadness for the pre-coronavirus world but that’s overshadowed by spending time with these two friends once again.
Of course, Brydon and Coogan exchange a number of impression in their ongoing banter, breaking out their reliable takes on Michael Caine and Roger Moore among others. Whereas past Trip films have had the two engaged in a sort of battle of egos – with Coogan’s massively overshadowing Brydon’s – The Trip to Greece sees these two taking on a more philosophical approach on their age, their legacy, and, yes, their mortality. Naturally, the philosophical elements comes to the front when discussing the culture and philosophy of the Greeks, right down to their various conversations about Aristotle. Just because Brydon and Coogan seem to be tackling bigger questions in what is possibly the final Trip doesn’t mean the film is saddled with a self-serious tone but rather a continuation of conversations that have been going on before cameras for a decade.
Much like in the way that the audience has built a bond with the two leads, it’s been fascinating to watch their fictional relationship evolve over the course of four movies. The harsher edges to their friendship that was prevalent in the first few films has softened considerably, though Coogan will often use his greater clout in Hollywood to name drop and brag about his BAFTA wins. The two comedians’ relationship has grown warmer with each installment, and yet Steve Coogan can’t resist any chance to prove his superiority over his friend, such as a friendly swimming race. Even as their relationship evolves into a stronger form of comradery than when these films started, there are certain aspects of that friendship that don’t evolve, like Coogan’s boundless competitiveness with his friend and colleague.
The Trip to Greece is being billed as “the final course” on its promotional materials, and I hope that isn’t the case. That’s not to say that if this is the end The Trip films ended on a down note, but that I just enjoy spending time with these two that I’d happily journey with them anywhere in the world. If this is truly the end for Coogan and Brydon’s adventures through Europe, it’ll have ended on another high note of food, friendship, impressions, and personal introspection. For The Trip films to end here and now, though, would be tragic as world events would have pushed The Trip to Greece to be an unwitting eulogy for a world left in our past in this post-pandemic world.
The Trip to Greece
Another journey through Europe with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, The Trip to Greece is another lovely entry in the semi-fictional travelogue featuring gorgeous scenery, delectable food, and two comedy greats exchanging in witty banter.