The Reluctant Traveler
Review by Ralph Lucas – Publisher
(March 7, 2023 – Toronto, ON) Chances are you are among the legion of Eugene Levy fans who believe no matter the role he was playing, he was just being himself. Wry, cautious, subdued. His latest venture, the AppleTV+ series The Reluctant Traveler will only reinforce that belief. This is a hugely binge-worthy series for many reasons, the most important being Levy is playing himself. He is the title character.
An admitted stay-at-home kind of guy, Levy travels to locations that are all fascinating, all far above the necessary income level for 99% of us, and is cornered into doing stuff he would never normally consider doing. For example, he’s afraid of heights but gets coaxed into crossing a mildly swinging suspension bridge high above a verdant Costa Rican valley, and travels by helicopter in two episodes, white-knuckled and eyes firmly shut. He handles it all with a mixture of trepidation and aplomb and with some of the best very closeup, screen-filling, stoic deadpan takes since Jack Benny.
Levy often reminds viewers of his age, 75 and the fact that he’s Canadian and always, no matter the location, way beyond his normal comfort zone. It leaves you with the impression his ideal location would be an almost soundproof room with large comfortable furniture and someone to bring endless cups of really great coffee. Safe, protected with no demands on his activity level other than raising a cup to his lips as frequently as required. Which makes him the perfect host for this British-produced series in which he also serves as one of the producers.
There are only 8 episodes and each worth watching more than once, more than twice. The scenery is stunning, the hotels to die for and the people he meets are gracious and fascinating in their own right. We also get to learn more about Eugene Levy. Timid yet brave, set in his ways yet flexible, fearful yet willing to take a risk and in a couple of places, involving wildlife (something he has only seen on television) we learn he can be easily moved, his emotions seen and felt. And everything tied together with his gentle and often gently pointed sense of humour.
The Reluctant Traveler debuted on February 24 and visits Finland, Costa Rica, Venice, Utah, the Maldives, South Africa, Lisbon and Tokyo. If you don’t, and may never have those destinations stamped into your passport, the series is your next best bet. Here’s to more destinations in the future. If they can ever get Mr. Levy to leave home again.
Images courtesy of AppleTV+
Also see: Eugene Levy’s filmography.
Ralph Lucas is the founder and publisher of Northernstars.ca. He began writing about film and reviewing movies while in radio in Montreal in the mid-1970s.