Review: “The Trip to Greece”

Michael Winterbottom’s “Trip” film series starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon are truly unique in nature.  Starting in 2010 with the television series “The Trip” that was later edited into a feature film and followed with “The Trip to Italy” and “The Trip to Spain,” the series follows Coogan and Brydon as they travel and eat their way across Europe, discussing a variety of topics along the way, usually humorously.  The series is now joined by the fourth and final installment, “The Trip to Greece,” in which Coogan and Brydon follow the same path as Odysseus did in “The Odyssey.”

Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon in Michael Winterbottom’s THE TRIP TO GREECE. An IFC Films Release. Courtesy of IFC Films.

Your enjoyment of “The Trip to Greece” largely depends on your enjoyment of the previous films (if you’ve seen them) or what sort of film you’re expecting to watch.  The film is largely fictionalized, with Coogan and Brydon playing fictional versions of themselves (as director Winterbottom describes it, they play a “slightly exaggerated version of who they are), but the film is shot on location and their conversations are partially improvised.  The result isn’t quite a documentary, but more of a fiction/nonfiction hybrid with a very loose narrative, and while that format may not be engaging to some viewers, it’s unlike anything else out there.

And there’s a reason the series has endured for almost a decade now.  Coogan and Brydon have wonderful chemistry and play off each other in their conversations so well, whether they are doing impressions (at one point at the start of the film Coogan lapses into his impression of Stan Laurel from last year’s film “Stan and Ollie”), or discussing deeper topics like mythology, something that the Grecian backdrop provides a neat backdrop for (another highlight is when they burst into a rendition of Frankie Valli’s “Grease” theme).  Winterbottom shoots the film beautifully, keeping the shots tight on Coogan and Brydon when they are having an intimate discussion over a meal but also showing off the gorgeous Grecian landscape, whether from a restaurant, hotel, or tourist attraction. 

“The Trip to Greece” is largely lighthearted, but there’s a touch of melancholy to it too, as Coogan deals with his ailing father while he is away (in real life, Coogan’s father had recently passed away). Of course, the fact that we currently aren’t in a position to travel and eat out also lends a shade of sadness to the film that I’m sure the filmmakers did not account for.  But there’s still a lot to glean from Coogan and Brydon’s lively conversations about life, careers, and relationships.  The end of the film is equal parts joyous and sad, and not unlike Odysseus’s own 20 year journey home.  It’s the sort of conclusion that feels like a fitting end to this series.

Media review link courtesy IFC Films. Runtime: 117 minutes. 3 out of 5 stars.

“The Trip to Greece” is available to watch on May 22 on the following platforms: iTunes, Amazon, GooglePlay, YouTube, Vudu, PlayStation, Xbox, Comcast Xfinity, Spectrum (Charter, Time Warner, Brighthouse), Verizon Fios, Altice (Optimum), Cox, DirecTV, AT&T, Bend Broadband, Buckeye, Guadalupe Valley, Hotwire Communications, Metrocast, Suddenlink, WOW Internet Cable, RCN, and Midcontinent Communications

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