As sobering as it is riotous, The Trip to Greece features all the aspects we’ve come to expect from the series: beautiful locations, fine dining, and hilarious impressions. It is the perfect film about food and tourism during a time when there is no tourism.
For those unfamiliar, The Trip franchise began in 2010 with a restaurant tour of Northern England. The films star British comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon playing exaggerated versions of their affable selves. The Trip movies are known for blurring the boundaries between reality and fiction, and despite loosely following a constructed narrative, are mostly just a show for the two pals to trade insults and point you to your next vacation.
The Trip to Greece marks the fourth and reportedly final installment of The Trip series, an end to an odyssey if you will. In the film, Brydon and Coogan team up to tackle an abbreviated version of Homer’s journey, travelling from Troy to Ithaca, with pitstops at Lesbos, Delphi, Athens, Hydra, and more.
Upon completing watching the film, I am now under the notion you can pick any spot in Greece to stay for a week, month, maybe even a year and not go wrong. Words that come to mind when describing the Greek landscape are idyllic, picturesque, and of the utmost postcard quality. The deep blue seas, scenic mountains, ancient ruins, and dark caves (the Caves of Diros they visit are known by legend as entrances to the Underworld) all produce a backdrop that is hard to believe exists on this earth.
The chemistry between the pair of Brydon and Coogan is splendid and has only gotten richer as the years have gone by; there’s only so much room in a conversation as the two frequently interrupt and talk over each other, always fighting for the last laugh. Impressions in the film include Dustin Hoffman, Marlon Brando, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mick Jagger, and Werner Herzog among others. During the car trips, Mr. Brydon likes to ironically sing from the soundtrack of Grease and the two later compete over who can properly mimic Greek singer Demis Roussos’ falsetto – the film is chock full of these lighthearted, good bits of fun.
However, The Trip to Greece is supplemented by its somber undertone, as reality does often like to crash the party in this indulging affair. When Brydon and Coogan first arrive in Lesbos from their private boat, Coogan runs into Kareem, a Syrian refugee whom he worked with in one of his latest pictures, another Michael Winterbottom directed film in Greed. They kindly drive Kareem to the Moria refugee camp, which is enclosed by barbed wire and home to more than 20,000 refugees; it’s an image that serves as an early reminder in the film that even in the most dreamlike of places there are painful stories to be told and issues that must be addressed.
The film is also accompanied by this malaise from getting older, which is sometimes played to comedic effect such as when the two comedians argue over who would be more likely to pull off a t-shirt with a logo on it, or when they race in the water only to exhaust themselves before reaching the finish line. However, the dilemmas of older age are not always laughed off, as Coogan, towards the end of the film, loses his father and is forced to cut the trip short. The always moving “On the Nature of Daylight” by German composer Max Richter sweeps into the score, as the film concludes on this melancholier note which involves Brydon and Coogan coming home in their own way, parallel to how Homer finishes his odyssey by finally arriving home.
If The Trip to Greece truly is the final escapade through Europe conducted by the comic pair, I’ll be sad to see them go, but think about all the other countries they could hit up…The Trip to France anyone? 8/10