Friday, 16 September 2011

Film Review: The Inbetweeners Movie

The risk with television movie spin-offs is that they usually turn into something like Kevin and Perry Go Large. Certainly I harboured fears that The Inbetweeners Movie could end up the same way given that it follows a well-worn path of placing our heroes outside their comfort zone, usually in a foreign country. Only Fools and Horses have done it, as did the sitcom Are You Being Served which flew the cast to the Costa Plonka. Fortunately you can cast any worries you might have had aside as The Inbetweeners Movie proves to be a reasonably effusive effort.

A-Levels done, recently dumped Simon (Thomas), sex-pest Jay (Buckley), dim-witted Neil (Harrison) and nerdy Will (Bird) decide to go on a lads holiday to Malia where "it'll be like shooting clunge in a barrel". Of course, illusions of "sun, sand, sex, sea and sex" are quickly shattered as dumb, dumber, dumberer and dweeb are soon subject to hotels from hell and alcohol infused embarrassment.

Essentially The Inbetweeners Movie is an extended episode, or more precisely three of them rolled into one. What you see is pretty much what you get with this as the film does nothing to subvert the genre. Rather, it plays to it and while it may well follow a stale formula it is still nonetheless wholly entertaining. The Inbetweeners is one of the few decent British comedies since The Office and while its movie incarnation might not necessarily push boundaries, it is a just reward in recognition to its success.

While there are references to the television series throughout, The Inbetweeners Movie doesn't really require any prior viewing knowledge. After a quick crash course on who's who it soon settles into its typical mould which is accessible to all. That is to say churlishly childish humour and coarse language with particular penchant for poo. Yes, The Inbetweeners Movie is crude, yet it perfectly encapsulates the pathetic trials and tribulations of the teenage male. Essentially it is a long gag reel consisting of one-liners you wouldn't be caught dead saying infront of your parents and sequences of awkward set-pieces which revel in their own outrageous shock value. You'll see the boys dance like twats in an effort to woo some girls and a multitude of scat jokes involving, for example, an inability to figure out what a bidet is for. However, Will's preternatural narration grounds the stolid onscreen proceedings as he offers an ironic, caustic commentary to highlight the lunacy of it all in a vain not too unlike a young David Mitchell.

But it's not all sex and poo. At its core The Inbetweeners Movie is a sweet, heartwarming tale of friendship and through all the grotesque occurrences it is this which shines. The boys' interdependency and mutual desideratum for each other supersedes all their hilariously lamentable attempts to get laid. All are likeable characters effusing a pathos and depth which you can't help but fall for, their relationships palpably touching and believable. By the end you feel they've grown into young adults and *gasps* that they might have learnt something for once. And the best part about this process is that it's portrayed so naturally and is so well captured that it never feels bathetic.

Performances all round are excellent as Simon pines for his ex, Carli (Head), Jay puts his infamous ladies skills to the test, feeble-minded Neil shags every granny in sight and Will's sensibilities are engulfed in the whirlwind of events. The supporting cast are also genuinely good. A group of four girls (Haddock, Kari, Knappet, Bewley) also on holiday who act as the boys' love interests more than hold their own as dynamic and independent entities while the inclusion of one weird, lone holidaymaker desperate to make friends called Richard (Barklem-Biggs) acts as one of the many astute observations regarding bizarre British holiday customs. While not central to proceedings, his popping in and out every now and again often ensues in laughs.

Unfortunately The Inbetweeners Movie probably signals the end of the road for the lads as discussions about their futures and plans for University essentially mark their parting of ways. Awkward and heartwarming in equal measure, this is a fitting send off to a brilliant series with fantastic characters.