The Inbetweeners 2: Movie Review
Cast: Simon Bird, Joe Thomas, James Buckley, Blake Harrison, Emily Berrington
Directors: Iain Morris and Damon Beesley
The boys are back for one last blast.
Having torn up the UK box office with their first cinematic outing (widely condemned for encouraging laddish behaviour and drunken escapades in Magaluf), a second was perhaps inevitable.
This time, when Jay (James Buckley) sends the remaining trio of Will (Bird), Neil (Harrison) and Simon (Thomas) an email bragging of his escapades during his gap year in Australia, the over-sexed trio of losers decide to go and join him.
So, putting life on hold, the mates plunge into the world of backpacking, dealing with those on a gap year and generally head for humiliation all over again.
Sad to say, The Inbetweeners 2 is not a patch on the first movie, which, while mining vulgarity also showcased the bond between the boys to excellent effect.
This latest has ramped up the gross out gags as far as they can go, so that you end up cringing in your seats. An impressively directed sequence which sees Will the victim of Neil's irritable bowel syndrome at a water park sets a new record for being both laugh out loud funny and uncomfortably excessive. Equally, an act of desperation when the boys become lost in the outback is the same mix of cringe and crude. There's plenty of swearing, objectification of women and general offensiveness on show - which you'd expect to a degree, but the writers have really gone for it this time, meaning non-fans of the show may feel somewhat alienated.
And yet, under all the low brow moments, there's a level of heart and warmth that writers and directors Beesley and Morris have brought to this that helps you through what feels like quite an episodic film. It lessens the offensive and really makes you appreciate the boys' bond and the way the writers have so excellently managed to transpose the awkward relationships of groups of boys to the big screen. Also, this time around, there's a degree of life actually figuring into their best laid plans - with not everything going to plan.
Will's flirtation with a fellow traveller, Katie (Berrington) is sweetly handled (even if she's relatively underwritten as a one-note female character) and leads to some absurdly amusing consequences; likewise, his relationship with another pompous traveller who's determined to mine his spirituality and pretentiousness of so many on a gap year trying to discover themselves is brilliantly satirical. Simon's psychotic girlfriend back in the UK gives Thomas another chance to mine his embarrassed beyond belief routine and frustration which was so perfectly honed during the TV series and Harrison's gormless one-liner Neil gets a fair share of the laughs thanks to the unpredictability of what's coming out of his mouth. But it's Buckley's character who gets the biggest journey here as his over-sexed, over-desperate and under-achieving Jay discovers more of his sensitive side and gives a sweetness to dull the offensive and non-stop lavatorial humour.
Thankfully, directors Morris and Beesley haven't completely forgotten the bromance and banter between the quartet that helped the series become such a success; scenes with just them in it sparkle and crackle with the hidden emotions that lads hide and the jibes that they throw at each other through their formative lives. They're a welcome addition because, in parts, the movie feels a little flat - especially given how the boys are split up.
If this is the end of the road for The Inbetweeners (and the creators and stars say it is), this second film is perhaps a summation of everything that made them great and also repelled others - scatalogical decadence and puerile smutty grossness with some potty mouthed laugh out loud moments.
To be honest, it won't win any new fans and even the fans of the show may find it a bit of a slog in places, but a nostalgic glow of the characters and the actors will leave you either amused or appalled.