“The Trip to Greece” brings the fourth sequel in the travels of comedians Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan to the M.V. Film Society. This film opens at the Film Center on July 8. Greece as a locus follows “The Trip to Italy” and “The Trip to Spain.” The format is the same: a silly round of songs, actor imitations, and clever repartee that keep the viewer entertained. A retracing of Odysseus’ historic excursion motivates their travels in Greece.
Directed by Michael Winterbottom, this parody of the travels of two British Isle comedians begins with their conversation in a restaurant about how odd it is to begin a trip to Greece in Turkey. The next quip is about how the Greeks camped there at Troy, but one of the comedians refuses to camp without a pillow. Next comes a luscious-looking meal of lamb chops, followed by a back-and-forth about sitting under a tree with insects flying around one’s head, necessitating a withdrawal to the house. The dizzying improvisations continue with an imitation of Stan Laurel.
Coogan and Brydon begin their excursion with a visit to the archaeological site of Troy in northwestern Turkey. The scene shifts to Greece, where they meet Kareem, who worked with Coogan. After giving him a ride, Brydon ribs Coogan for not remembering Kareem’s name. The two hike up to the Temple of Athena at Delphi, which looks like a rubble of rock. The duo finds it less than inspiring, although they manage a few jokes that the viewer needs to scramble to keep up with. A stop at a restaurant becomes a regular interval, as the food served inspires more conversational jokes.
The film becomes an entertaining tour guide. For instance, the viewer learns that Sappho, one of the greatest lyrical poets of ancient Greece, lived on Lesbos, where they make a stop. Some scholars deem that Sappho’s few surviving poems deal with love between women or girls, the source of a few more wisecracks, and an interest in an aptly named hotel. The narrative is divided by the days of the week and the locations their travels take them to. On Tuesday they arrive in Macedonia, where Aristotle tutored Alexander the Great, who lost a wife and gained an empire. Time for Brydon’s humorous impersonation of Marlon Brando. It’s just one of many, including Mick Jagger, Dustin Hoffman, Barry Gibb, and Ray Winstone.
Coogan and Brydon enjoy a meal at Greece’s top seafood restaurant. A discussion of the Marathon, where the runner dropped dead, leads to their view of three young women and a swimming race, where Brydon pulls ahead of his competitive but friendly rival. A conversation about “Midnight Cowboy” leads confusingly to a gag about a dentist who’s drilling and can’t get out of Dustin Hoffman’s mouth. When Thursday arrives, the two are joined by two women friends, in a romantic interlude for Coogan. By Sunday, the end to “The Trip to Greece” arrives unexpectedly, but it’s one which is peculiarly fitting of this traveling sequel.
“The Trip to Greece” opens on Wednesday, July 8. Visit the website for more information, mvfilmsociety.com.