Directed by: Damon Beesley & Iain Morris
Starring: Simon Bird, James Buckley, Joe Thomas, Blake Harrison, Emily Berrington
The greatest achievement of the first Inbetweeners Movie wasn’t the fact that it broke box office records, or that it succeeded in being far more enjoyable than most of us would have expected. No, The Inbetweeners Movie’s ultimate accomplishment was that it managed to feel entirely logical; taking a group of characters that we had come to know and love on the small-screen and transplant them in the multiplex for a fantastically funny finale, which utilised the greater creative freedom afforded by the cinematic format.
At the time, writer/creators Iain Morris and Damon Beesley stipulated that the movie was indeed the end of the line for the foolhardy foursome. A statement they soon retracted however, as it became apparent just how astronomically successful the first film had been. Instead Morris and Beesley insisted they did have another story to tell, which brings us to The Inbetweeners 2. Given that it has been three years since we last saw the boys, anticipation amongst fans is inevitable, even if you cynically consider the motives to be money orientated. What’s unexpected is that this misanthropic mind-set is only enhanced by the finished result.
Resolutely abiding by the mantra that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, Morris and Beesley (now also holding the directorial reins) have crafted a sequel that unashamedly sticks to the first film’s formula. Once again Will, Simon, Jay, and Neil have travelled to foreign climes in search of the “clunge” they so fervently crave. This time it’s Australia, where Jay promises a land of sexually charged, sun-kissed opportunities. Embarking on a backpacking holiday with a group led by Will’s former classmate Katie, the boys soon find their different reasons for travelling beginning to cause a rift between them.
What’s ironic is that it was partly due to the grand success of the first Inbetweeners film that we have now had to endure such catastrophes as Mrs. Brown’s Boys D’Movie and even solo outings from repugnant TV personalities like Keith Lemon. A small price to pay perhaps for a film that was so exceptionally entertaining, but not when it is followed by such a lacklustre sequel.
The problem is that, unlike before, The Inbetweeners 2 feels entirely illogical. By the time we reach the end, no one’s situation has really changed – except perhaps that of Will’s mum, whose left field revelation feels daft rather than daring – and as such the entire film feels stagnant and unnecessary.
Of course, given the audience probably isn’t expecting anything more than they received before, it could certainly be argued that there is no need to subvert from the first film’s narrative. However, said audience will also be expecting plentiful amounts of delectably profane humour, which the script somewhat unforgivably lacks.
Certainly the bigger budget has allowed for grosser gags, and the image of Will being chased down a water slide by another friend’s excrement raises more than just a titter, but mostly it robs the film of its comic validity. Those smaller, sillier moments, which simply comprise of the 4 ribbing with each other and have always been the backbone of the show’s charm, are regularly shunned here to make way for the writer’s overbearing narrative. When all is said and done, it’s clear that the material isn’t as focused as it once was. The set-pieces lack inspiration and the banter fails to embody the spontaneously quick-witted quality it once had.
That’s not to say that the four front men don’t manage to inject the film with the same enthusiasm they always have, because they do. Simon Bird continues to be particularly brilliant at crafting cringingly comical beats, his rendition of The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face being a notable highlight here, while James Buckley affectingly hints at an insecure nature underneath Jay’s confident shell.
Sadly though, for all their effort, Joe Thomas and Blake Harrison seem to have been given less to do here; the former resigned to an arc comprised of a single joke that’s extended to the entire film and the latter simply relied upon to make some sort of amusingly stupid statement when the tempo slows. Meanwhile, as the most notable newcomer, Emily Berrington fails to personify the charm so effortlessly exuded by Laura Haddock in the first film.
The fault of the film’s failure though lies squarely with Morris and Beesley, whose “final story” appears to simply be a retread of what they had already explored, with more bodily fluid being splashed across the screen. That lack of creativeness even extends to the tagline on the poster, which lazily reads “soz Oz”. As it soon becomes apparent though, it shouldn’t be Australia the writers are apologising to, but the fans.