Directors: Damon Beesley, Iain Morris
Writers: Damon Beesley, Iain Morris
Stars: Simon Bird, James Buckley, Blake Harrison, Joe Thomas
Release date: August 7th, 2014
Distributors: Film4 Productions, Bwark Productions
Running time: 96 minutes
Best part: The leads’ inherent chemistry.
Worst part: The overlong gross out gags.
As the perfect release from reality, sitcom TV relishes in bizarre situations and unadulterated slapstick. With the enjoyment factor turned up to 11, shows like Parks & Recreation and Community fuse light-hearted thrills with imaginative characters. One recent sitcom – British cult hit The Inbetweeners – achieved success by latching onto a particular age bracket. As a slice of UK escapism, the E4 franchise has been lucky enough to launch two mega-smash cinema releases.
Admittedly, I realise these big-screen Inbetweeners adventures come off like extreme acts of desperation. These ventures, taking our downtrodden characters from sitcom modesty to American Pie glory, could have easily become tiresome and frustrating. However, bafflingly so, the original’s massive profit margins pushed many boundaries. Now, after three years of watching our four leads fail to develop multi-layered careers, we get a front row seat to watch this sequel shunt its way past the competition on opening weekend. This movie, if anything, displays the nerds becoming the jocks of the British franchise universe. All that’s needed now is a televised Inbetweeners vs. Doctor Who showdown. Fortunately, unlike everything else this series has offered, The Inbetweeners 2 is a likeable and sensitive effort. Our favourite nobodies – Will (Simon Bird), Simon (Joe Thomas), Neil (Blake Harrison), and Jay (James Buckley) – have somehow stooped lower than before. Will – his university’s least popular undergraduate – is aching for a much-needed escape. After falling for yet another clever prank, Will, Simon, and Neil receive an extensive email from Jay. Jay, enjoying a “mental” gap year in Australia, tells them of his sordid adventures within his uncle’s lavish mansion.
Simon and Neil, escaping psychotic girlfriends and meaningless existences, agree to Will’s plan to travel half-way around the globe. Leaving Jay’s uncle’s house behind, our four adolescent schlubs head from Sydney to Byron Bay – in the ‘Mobile Virgin Conversion Unit’ – in the hopes of achieving their impulse-driven goals. Obviously, The Inbetweeners 2 isn’t trying to wow its target demographic with intricate plot-threads or heartbreaking character arcs. Aware of their series’ immense appeal, directors/writers/show creators Damon Beesley and Iain Morris take the reins with suitable street-smarts in tow. Unlike the original, this instalment sticks wholeheartedly by its four dunderheaded leads. Despite smashing into several cliches and dry spots, this sequel takes a hands-on approach to this standard road trip tale. Running on buddy-comedy wise-cracks and tried-and-true plot-lines, even horny 13 year olds can predict where this shame-fuelled journey is heading. However, laid out like any given episode of the original series, the joy comes from seeing our clunge-obsessed ravagers rise and fall spectacularly. Unsurprisingly, the Australian stereotypes come thick and fast. In the first third, Jay shows off his encounters with boomerangs, sun-drenched beaches, frenzied nightclub scene, and bikini-clad babes. His first scene alone, playing out like a Wolf of Wall Street montage, makes this sequel feel wholly cinematic.
“Will be careful, muff before mace is actually a crime in Australia.” (Neil (Blake Harrison), The Inbetweeners 2).
However, providing pure laugh-out-loud relief, the last third brings specific Aussie cliches, and our awesome foursome, together. During the climax, the hilarity spills fourth as our leads become stuck in a harsh desert landscape. I half expected them to run into Mick Taylor and his trusty -. Sadly, despite the positives, this sequel ventures into several ill-advisable gross out gags and soppy moments. The water park scene, in particular, yields several unfunny and ethically questionable set pieces. In addition, like with the original, the supporting characters – rounded out by several antagonistic back-packers – stall this otherwise quaint adventure. Worse still, the movie almost breaks down whenever its misogyny catches up to everything else. Presenting multiple female characters as hindrances, it’s offensiveness becomes unrelentingly vapid. However, making this sitcom-based series whole, our lead performers seize this opportunity to show off their sublime talents. Bird, hitting his stride as the crew’s nerdiest combatant, is a charismatic and witty force throughout. Eclipsing his three comrades, Will’s arc instantly takes centre stage. In addition, Buckley’s Jay delivers several cracking moments as the group’s most obnoxious yet ambitious member. Oddly enough, Simon and Neil get pushed to the background in favour of their more-intriguing buddies.
The Inbetweeners series sits best with the hormonal teens and clueless adolescents scrounging around this bleak, blue marble. Driven by expletive-driven humour and manic characters, this pacy and hysterical creation has transitioned gracefully from sitcom success to celluloid gloss. The Inbetweeners 2, though not an award winner, makes for a worthwhile 90 minutes. surprisingly so, fans and newcomers will enjoy Will, Simon, Neil, and Jay’s final on-screen adventure. God knows where they’ll end up!