The Reluctant Traveler — Official Trailer | Apple TV+

Such humor seems washed away by Venice, though, as the audience, yes, finds itself back in Italy. From the patio of the Gritti Palace, a favorite of the likes of Liberace and Chaplin, he seems bothered by the bustle of water taxis. He tempers appreciation for dried cod with an ill-toned beat of “I was expecting cat food.” He fawns over the hair of a gondolier, bristles at the advice of “go get lost” with a “that is so not me,” and winds up with raviolis, shaped like gondolas, fork action going in slow motion, strings swelling like this was a Proustian moment. “This is outstanding food,” he feels, eventually ending the evening with a dessert made to look like a cigar while sitting at Ernest Hemingway’s old table.


Having never been to Venice, we can still confidently say this is not an authentic experience of Venice. Or maybe that is jealousy and annoyance at the hotel itself, which starts at around $1,250 a night. Such an Orbitz search might finally beg the question: Who is this show for? Turns out that price wouldn’t even get you half-a-night at the resort he bags as headquarters for helicopter-traversing and such in Utah.

At the core of it all seems to be a marriage of “I can say I’ve been there” sentiment and one-percenter accommodations he barely wants to leave. It’d be hard to find a travel motivation more base, less Bourdain. Even when he finally takes a polar plunge in the backwoods of Finland, it is done in a cozy flotation suit, warm and protected, aptly skimming along the top of things at a scrunched-nose remove.


It’s hard to deny, or stop rooting for, Levy and his disarming sweetness, that nearly cheerful orneriness, his resounding nerdy normalcy. Even, or especially when, playing a bit of a cuck, his characters all seem loaded with history, with frustration and disappointment not of the lofty poet sort, but of the dentist with a dream. Of the loving Terrier dad.

“People say, ‘You must have been the class clown.’ And I say, ‘No, I wasn’t. But I sat next to the class clown, and I studied him,’” he straight faces as Dr. Pearl in Waiting For Guffman, a line so perfect it seems like an echo of the character, the actor, the writer, the man. Here he is the class clown. A role that, to his credit, he’s always seemed far too nice, too even, too comfortingly average to fully embody. As Gerry Fleck in Best In Show, in a beautiful aside of the sort where Levy always sparkles, he laments, “I have two left feet.” Seeing him so front and relentlessly center stage, it makes this kind of physical shortcoming almost literal—again. It also makes most of the steps of this travelogue more meandering, less revelatory, and not very funny.


The Reluctant Traveler With Eugene Levy premieres February 24 on Apple TV+