Friday, 8 August 2014

The Inbetweeners Movie 2

The first Inbetweeners movie pulled off one of the most notoriously difficult feats in cinema - converting a popular sit-com into a feature length film. Where the likes of Sex in the City and Kevin and Perry Go Large had dramatically failed, the channel four comedy about four pathetic suburban six-formers eased into the extended format and was a box-office and critical success.   

Three years on and writers Damon Beesley and Ian Morris have taken on the arguably even greater challenge of making a good sequel off the back of a successful first film, and, thankfully, they’ve once again succeeded. The potty mouthed teens may not feel quite as fresh as when they first appeared on TV as alarmingly uncouth yet recognisable types from school, but their mishaps still prove to be the source of plenty of laughs and good-natured fun.

All the usual elements of plans going horribly wrong, gross out humour, sit-com-structured misfortune, hilarious minor character cameos (including one very satisfying appearance from Greg Davies’ Mr Gilbert) and almost poetically filthy dialogue all remain. But most importantly of all is that the characters still feel authentic. It is typical of long-running shows for the writers to begin to lose focus on what makes the characters so appealing and end up becoming overly reliant on more cartoonish elements like gross-out gags, but everything that made the four inbetweeners recognisable and hilarious remain intact.

Will’s (Simon Bird) still a neurotic dork and has, inevitably, failed to make any friends at Uni; Simon’s (Joe Thomas) latest relationship has, also inevitably, gone horribly wrong as it transpires that his girlfriend is overly-controlling; Jay (James Buckley) is living in Australia and e-mailing the others about his quite literally unbelievable stories; with Neil (Blake Harrison), as dim-witted as ever, the only one to believe him, and eager to catch a plane and join in the fun down-under. The others eventually agree, and, upon finding Jay’s lifestyle to be not be quite as extravagant as promised, decide to go travelling across the country.

Pleasingly, rather than set-up another clich├ęd ‘lads on tour’ looking for girls scenario, the trip to Australia is used to return to the original dynamic of the show – Will’s relation to the others. From the very beginning of the show Will was cast as a misfit, the blazer-wearing ‘briefcase wanker’ who did not fit in at his new comprehensive school. That tension is reawakened when Will meets the kind of middle-class, Peruvian villager-befriending backpackers (not ‘tourists’, as they’re adamant to remind everyone) that he feels he ought to be friends with. But they could not be more different from his actual friends, as hilariously illustrated in a scene where Neil, being introduced to them for the first time, fails to comprehend the concept of a double-barrelled surname.  

In this sense, the sequel is actually more interesting in terms of plot than the first film’s hunt for girls in Malia. Of course, he has a love interest – one of those backpackers is childhood crush Katie (Emily Berrington) – but the film is more interested in what she represents than whether Will gets with her at the end. At the same time, there are perhaps slightly less laughs and stand-out moments as the quartet’s bizarre dancing and Simon’s ill-fated swim in the first film, and this time the hundred minute running time – four times longer than an average episode – does feel a little strained come the last act.

But overall this is yet another entertaining instalment of the Inbetweeners franchise (given this film’s huge commercial success, it’s perhaps time we referred to it as this). Although Simon Bird has said this will probably be the last film, a threequel would certainly be welcome. And, given how the writers continue to succeed with everything they’ve done with the characters (OK, so perhaps not everything - ), that rare feat of a successful trilogy seems plausible. 


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