Director: Damon Beesley, Iain Morris
Cast: Simon Bird, Joe Thomas, James Buckley, Blake Harrison, Emily Berrington, Tamla Kari
Plot: Will (Bird), Simon (Thomas) and Neil (Harrison) head off to Australia to surprise Jay (Buckley), unaware that his claims of a rock star lifestyle are made up of total lies.
When The Inbetweeners 2 kicks off, you could be forgiven that too much money has gone into this movie. The main difference between this film and the one released in 2012 is that the sequel has a much more ‘cinematic’ tone. It opens with a Harry Potter parody credits sequence, where a zooming shot shows us a misty night in Bristol. Five minutes later, we are treated to a montage ripped from Jay’s imagination, where he recounts his exotic life of ‘punching out koala bears’, ‘getting a blowie every morning from super-models’ and ‘definitely not thinking about, Jayne’, his ex-girlfriend from the last movie. It’s not that it isn’t funny, because it definitely is beyond hilarious, but there is a sense that it has come too far from its humble Channel 4 beginnings. You begin to worry that this is the kind of show that doesn’t suit a movie format. The first twenty minutes race along at a break-neck speed, firing exposition and jokes endlessly, drowning the viewer in detail after detail. In fairness, if you watch any of the episodes from the TV programme, this has always been what the Inbetweeners as done and we cannot really blame them for doing that here. But the point still stands that it doesn’t really work in the movie.
However, once that first twenty minutes have ended, you forget any doubt you had about this movie. The new and improved budget has been spent wisely on some set-pieces that you couldn’t imagine being given to us in the TV show. The gang head to Australia and Will ends up bonding, or thinking he is bonding, with a group of back-packers on their gap year. It seems like a logical step to take the ‘holiday aboard’ storyline, so it never feels like a cheap excuse to film the sequel in Australia. The other characters also have their own story arcs, so it doesn’t become the Will McKenzie show too much. Simon wants to break up with the girl he met in the last movie, who is growing crazier at every given moment. Jay has alterior motives for being in Australia. Neil wants to feed dolphins Nandos. When the movie climaxes in the water park, it does feel like the original show, only bigger. The characters break off and each go about their own mini-arcs, each resulting in an unbelievably funny pay-off. I will not try and hint or explain any of these jokes, because the joy is in being totally unaware how the directors are going to deliver the punchline. The fun is in the surprise and embarrassment as Will’s embarrassing chase for a girl out of his league goes from bad to downright horrifying. All I can say is that fans of the show will definitely not be disappointed. The set might be bigger, but that humour we have grown to love is ever present throughout the entire film.
However, the film never forgets the true nature of the Inbetweeners. I like that the final twenty minutes of the film get rid of the gap year characters (they are fun and some clever jokes are made, but they often fall on the wrong side of annoying), and all of the noisy set-pieces. It just becomes a show about the four friends in a car, trading jokes and insults. Everything else becomes white noise and the writers just give us a cracking script bursting with witty one-liners and dick jokes. It refuses to take any emotional resonance seriously, but that is part of the charm. The ending will either annoy those, expecting a big finish from a great movie, or it will feel right. If this is the last time we see the Inbetweeners, I think that this is how I would like to remember them. Bickering until the bitter end and taking the piss out of Neil’s gay dad.
Final Verdict: It threatens to come off the rails, but overall, this is a great return to the big screen for these British heroes. Funny, clever and surprisingly touching, this is a roaring success.