If you haven’t seen either film (and really, you shouldn’t attempt the second until you’ve seen the first) that plot description doesn’t seem riveting though it is pretty hilarious on the backs of talents like Coogan and Brydon. But what really gives both films gravitas is the serious life stuff thrown in between the pornographically opulent food and travel shots and brainy quips.
Broken relationships, extramarital affairs, career disappointments… all fall into the two films’ cross-hairs. And in The Trip to Italy, one brief scene is especially resonant and quietly heartbreaking: Coogan and Brydon mourn their younger selves, the selves that used to draw the hungry glances of young women, but now do not.
“It's funny... women that age just look straight through us, don’t they," the 49-year-old Coogan laments to Brydon as he observes a 20-ish blonde.
"We're non-threatening,” Brydon concurs.
“The smile we get is the smile they give to a benevolent uncle,” Coogan retorts. “Or a pest."
Pretty much anyone over age 40 doesn’t hear that dialog. They feel it in their bones. It is one of life’s cruelest ironies – just at the point where you finally start feeling comfortable in your own skin, nobody else wants to touch it.
Next step? Death.
It’s interesting hearing men decry aging with the frank resignation normally exhibited by women which the universe clearly targets for harsher judgment on this front. Face it – society abhors aging women. Actually, society can’t be bothered summoning the energy needed to abhor aging women. It just relegates them to invisibility instead.
Your friends, good souls that they are, will insist you’ve still got it, you are still attractive and desirable. Maybe more so now that you’re filled with dazzling, hard-won insights you can share over dinner and cocktails.
Your friends will chummily if bitchily point out the person in your orbit who has gotten fat or so lazy that they’re willing to leave the house wearing sweat pants – the unambiguous raising of the white flag on romance. “Compared to her,” they’ll coo, “You’re the bomb sweetie!”
But in your heart you know it’s not true. Heads don’t spin anymore. Construction-site whistles – once so repugnant – are no longer a daily fact of life. You’d be thrilled if they were a monthly occurrence. You are beautiful no more. Welcome to the golden years. And thanks for playing.