(out of 5)
After touring restaurants of the Lake District was such a hit, featuring spirited conversation over gourmet meals, best mates and, more subtly, professional rivals Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon have been assigned to do more of the same, but this time are being sent abroad. Not only is there more eating and celebrity impersonations (Brydon’s Pacino is still hilarious), but with the beautiful Italian weather and gorgeous women abounding, there is even more desperate clinging to youth in the face of middle age for them to deal with; this time, the desire to indulge in life’s pleasures (with the families tucked safely away in England) is irresistible. The truth is, this sequel is not nearly as good as the original (and I say that while fully aware that they try to avoid this criticism by opening the film with a discussion about sequels), the conversations not nearly as tight and the opportunities for their gifted impersonations feeling so much more gratuitously contrived than they were the last time. There was a surprising feeling in the first film that actual emotional crises were being addressed by the humorous repartee, their taking place in self-important, high-end restaurants making male mid-life crisis behavior that much more clownish and comical. Here the food is incidental and the plotting (which involves them once again playing themselves but in fictional circumstances) more messy and slack than loose and instinctive. The whole thing feels more like a bonus feature on a DVD despite the gorgeous cinematography and intrusive music score; that said, these guys are still funny, and the impersonations really are marvelous (Michael Caine begging Batman to take care of himself is priceless), so I’ll happily show up for a third serving.
Directed by Michael Winterbottom
Screenplay by Michael Winterbottom
Cinematography by James Clarke
Produced by Melissa Parmenter