I don’t think I know anyone else whom I’d consider a friend or a peer who’s familiar with The Inbetweeners and also doesn’t like it. I can’t really be the only one can I? Beginning as a small British high school set sitcom, it quickly became hugely popular in the UK, lasting for 3 series, setting viewing records and winning a few awards. It was deemed successful enough that a movie was commissioned in 2011 to end the series. The unexpectedly gigantic success of that movie at the UK box office then of course led the creators to think that maybe they shouldn’t end it right then after all; and lo, a sequel was born. I caught a few episodes of the show when it was airing at the recommendation of numerous friends, and although I was very much the target audience, I just never found it particularly funny. I should probably be upfront and say that I haven’t actually seen the first Inbetweeners movie, but when reviews for the sequel started coming in, many were not only positive but mentioned how this was a ‘stand-alone’ story that didn’t require previous knowledge (the first film was supposed to definitively end the series after all). So having a chance to see it I found myself thinking “Why not give it another shot? Maybe I’ve been wrong about this show everyone else seems to love so much?”
In fairness to The Inbetweeners 2, it does possess a story worthy of being feature length, it doesn’t just feel like a stretched out TV episode, and it does work on its own divorced from the rest of the series. So well done guys, you’ve made a proper movie, it’s just not a good one.
The quartet of pillocks the show revolves around are no longer in high school, but are still very much acting like stupid teenagers (the actors are mostly around 30 now). Narrator and frequent butt of jokes Will is at university, where everyone seems to hate him. Gel-fringed Simon is also at Uni, and struggling with his awful girlfriend who destroys his possessions if she suspects the slightest thing of him. Irritating dimwit Neil has a job while smug, egotistical prick Jay is having a gap year in Australia. With the possible exception of Simon, none are likeable but are effectively introduced, in Jay’s case with a misogynistic rant straight to camera about just how much incredible sex he’s having on a daily basis.
The other three decide that their lives still suck in England and, too stupid to see that Jay is blatantly lying about his situation (he tells them he’s a nightclub DJ living in a mansion), they decide to go to visit him for the summer. The primary plot is then the typical teen comedy quest to get girls. The humour is generally as juvenile as it is predictable, with plenty of ‘your mum’ jokes, masturbation references and repetitive gags among the lads’ banter. It also has an unsurprising focus on bodily-function related ‘gross-out humour’. Over the course of the film we get to see the fellas piss, vomit and shit frequently, sometimes in front of each other, other times directly onto. The Inbetweeners 2’s big central set piece is signposted the moment someone mentions they have ‘irritable bowel syndrome’ and like last year’s dire teen comedy The To Do List, the filmmakers believe that there’s nothing funnier than a combination of public swimming pools and human faecal matter.
The predictability extends to the plot as well, which is primarily motivated by the boys’ general idiocy landing them in tricky situations. It then tries to add depth to a hateful arsehole like Jay. Oh, plus there are rape jokes.
There is one aspect in which The Inbetweeners 2 is actually a bit funny though, which will likely be emphasised for anyone with much experience of backpacking. It makes a few jokes about the sheer number of Brits who head off to Australia on their gap year and features a memorable supporting character called Ben. Ben is a pretentious, dreadlocked, wifebeater-clad guy who tries to subtly discredit those he views as lesser ‘travellers’ than he is, while badly playing acoustic guitar to try and impress girls. I’m sure everyone who’s done some travelling has met people just like him. The film could have done better in its sending-up of his type (and I could have done without Will’s on-the-nose rant explaining the joke) but it’s undoubtedly the best idea in the movie.
That’s just a small part of the film though, which for the most part just re-enforced my opinion that this show has never been any good to begin with. It’s again been a smash-hit in the UK and will likely tempt creators (and directors here) Damon Beesley and Iain Morris to bring it back once again, but I have no desire to spend any more time in the company of The Inbetweeners.