The Trip to Greece (2020) ☆☆☆(3/4): Coogan and Brydon’s last trip

“The Trip to Greece”, which is supposedly the final installment following “The Trip” (2010) and two sequels, is another delight from Michael Winterbottom and his two engaging lead performers. Yes, they simply serve us a series of jokes, conversations, dishes, and sceneries as they previously did, but it is still as witty and entertaining as expected, and it also surprisingly feels bittersweet with unexpected moments of melancholy and poignancy around the end of their trip.

As before, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon play the fictional version of themselves, and the opening part of the movie shows them beginning the first day of their weeklong trip in Greece. They are in one of those numerous islands in Greece, and they are going to go around here and there around several other islands while also having some good time at a number of local restaurants.

While waiting for dishes to be served to them one by one at the first restaurant in their schedule, Coogan and Brydon cannot help but throw jokes and other verbal jabs at each other, and that surely reminds me of how much I have gotten accustomed to their respective comic personas since I watched “The Trip” in 2011. While he showed the more serious side of his talent via several recent films including his Oscar-nominated movie “Philomena” (2013), I still remember Coogan for his goofy performance in “Around the World in 80 Days” (2004), and I certainly enjoyed how he hilariously played along with Brydon in “Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story” (2005), which is about making a movie based on one of the nuttiest works in the history of British literature. As a matter of fact, that movie was so funny and outrageous that I was surprised to learn later that the novel in question, “The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy”, does exist – and I managed to read it several years ago, by the way.

Although they already had so much fun from playing against each other in the previous three films, Brydon and Coogan keep finding something fun to say to each other as usual. One of the most amusing moments in “The Trip” is when they try to imitate Michael Caine’s distinctive voice, and, this time, they attempt to imitate several other famous performers. For example, when they talk about Alexander the Great at one local restaurant, their conversation somehow leads to “The Godfather” (1972) and Marlon Brando, and that leads to an impromptu competition on imitating the iconic mumbling voice of Brando in that classic gangster film.

My personal favourite moment comes from the other restaurant scene where Coogan and Brydon happen to compete with each other again on the imitation of famous figures. This time, it is Dustin Hoffman, and their imitation attempts begin with “Midnight Cowboys” (1969) and “Tootsie” (1982) and then end with “Marathon Man” (1976), on which they end up discussing a bit on that infamous scene which is mainly known for that intimidating question thrown at Hoffman’s character in that movie more than once.

Of course, the camera occasionally observes how those delicious local dishes are cooked before eventually served to Brydon and Coogan. They surely look, well, yummy as cooks are working on them step by step, and I particularly enjoyed watching the preparation of a certain seafood dish, which looks delicious with a colorful sauce poured onto raw oyster.

In case of sceneries, the movie does not disappoint us at all. Besides those wide and crisp views of the Aegean Sea, we are treated with other beautiful sights by which Coogan and Brydon drop during their trip, and Winterbottom also gives a brief nod to the social/political issues at present when Brydon and Coogan get a glimpse on a local camp for refugees thanks to an accident encounter with a guy who appeared along with Coogan in Winterbottom’s previous film “Greed” (2019), which is incidentally also set in one of the main islands in Greece.

Meanwhile, the movie gradually presents what has been going on in its two lead characters’ respective personal lives. As they become more conscious of getting older day by day, Coogan and Brydon want to be reminded that they are still fine and all right as before, and there is a silly scene where they try a small swimming competition between them. Observing how clumsy they are during their swimming, I was reminded of how slow I have been in my swimming these days, and that led me to a brief musing on the fact that I am not as young as I was once in the 2000s.

Anyway, mortality still remains an unavoidable fact for both Brydon and Coogan, who, as reflected by several short dream scenes, becomes more agitated after hearing the news of his father’s recent illness and following hospitalization. What follows in the end will not probably surprise you much, but the last shot between Coogan and Brydon in the film will linger on your mind for a while for its melancholic aspects, and you will come to sense that they and Winterbottom really arrive at the end of their 10-year journey.

Overall, “The Trip to Greece”, which is actually edited from six TV episodes just like its predecessors, is a nice finishing touch to what was begun with “The Trip”, and I enjoyed many playfully barbed moments between Brydon and Coogan. They do not reach to that sublime qualities of Andre Gregory and Wallace Shawn in “My Dinner with Andre” (1981), but they have been never boring at all in their effortless comic interactions, and I will not mind if they ever try an encore with Winterbottom someday.

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