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THE TRIP TO GREECE

If you’ve seen any or all of Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon’s previous ventures (The Trip, The Trip to Italy, The Trip to Spain), you know what to expect from this latest venture from director Michael Winterbottom: an attractive travelogue punctuated by elegant meals and competitive monologues by the two funny, friendly rivals. I call them monologues because their speeches rarely involve each other: each performer takes his turn, interrupts the other, then declaims some more.

Having drained the cup dry on Michael Caine impressions in their first film, they compete to see who can better imitate Mick Jagger, Dustin Hoffman in Marathon Man or a number of British television hosts who are unknown to me. Brydon breaks me up as he repeatedly launches into Bee Gees songs at appropriate and inappropriate moments, while Coogan is cornered into being more of a straight-man.

As always there are periodic calls home as the travelers make their way from Turkey (where the city that was Troy is located) through spectacularly scenic spots on the Greek map.

But there is no narrative thrust and the never-ending banter seems more forced this time around. The concluding sequence goes on much longer than it should and didn’t arrive at a point, so far as I could see. I don’t wish to seem ungrateful, as Brydon and Coogan have given me great pleasure and many laughs in the past, but this half-hearted film (edited down, like the other features, from a six-part British TV series) causes me to unearth a famous slogan from World War II: was this trip really necessary?

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Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at leonardmaltin.com. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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