Monday, 18 August 2014

[Review] The Inbetweeners 2

The Inbetweeners started its life as a UK television series concerned with four oversexed teenage boys who were battling through the final tumultuous years of high school. As the title of the show suggests, their social status laid somewhere inbetween the geeks and the cool crowd. They talked about nothing but getting laid...but in the end, they were essentially clueless fools who ended up with egg on their face more often than not. Think a British version of American Pie, only raunchier and far more obscene if that's even possible.

After three hugely successful television seasons, the series culminated with a film adaptation, which turned out to be quite a nice little sendoff to these characters. However, that original film became a mammoth box-office hit (in Europe) and inevitably the money men came calling for a sequel.

Admittedly, based on the completely underwhelming trailer my initial expectations were quite low going into The Inbetweeners 2, and I say this as a fan. I couldn't help but feel that the formula had maybe reached its used-by date. So colour me surprised to find that there is still a hint of life left after all.

Picking up a year after graduating high-school, we find our heroes in the throes of that awkward inbetween gap year. Will (Simon Bird) and Simon (Joe Thomas) are attending university and discovering that they remain just as unpopular as they were back in their high school days. While the dim-witted oaf of the group Neil (Blake Harrison) is floating aimlessly as always. Meanwhile, frequent exaggerator Jay (James Buckley) is on a self-proclaimed "mental" gap year in Australia. With not much happening in their social calendars, the three boys -- or young men -- pack their bags and head to Australia to meet up with Jay.

You know that old saying "with age comes wisdom?" Well apparently not. At least not in the case of our heroes. For better or worse, they're the same filthy-minded yet entirely loveable knuckleheads from the television series.

Reliable narrator Will is still the same old twat who believes himself to be more sophisticated and mature than those surrounding. Helping to him to land in hot water more often than not. Simon has finally moved on from his long-standing obsession with the girl next door and entered a real relationship. Only problem being that his new gal pal is the girlfriend-from-hell type. Neil is still the same old thick skulled loveable oaf as always. And last but not least, Jay is still regaling his mates with his far-fetched tales of debauchery whilst desperately trying to hide his true sensitive side.

These characters should be well out of steam by now and yet somehow co-creators Damon Beesly and Iain Morris have managed to squeeze the last remaining juice out of these characters. With little in the way of plot, the film is more concerned with stringing one gross-out gag after another. The guys find themselves travelling across Australia on a mission involving Jay attempting to reconcile with his ex-girlfriend. Along their journey, they encounter the likes of pretentious spoiled rich kids backpacking, a disastrous visit to a water park all before getting stranded in the outback.

In typical sequel fashion, the gags have been amped right up to eleven. There are at least two or three grand setpieces involving projectile bodily fluid that will either leave you in stitches of laughter or leave you reaching for the nearest vomit bag. But like the TV series, it's not so much the big setpiece gags that standout the most, rather its the little moments of back and forward bantering that steal the show completely. It is safe to say that the guys are at their best in the simpler moments when its just them casually riffing on one another.

Despite the fact that these guys are now struggling to pass off as a couple of 20-something kids, each of them remains so perfectly in tune with their characters that they almost, almost get away with it one last time. . The shared camaraderie -- or bromance if you might -- is still as strong and as charming as it ever has been. But I believe this is probably the last time they can get away with it.

Robustly directed by series creators Damon Beesly and Iain Morris. It is a film that would look more at home on television rather than in the cinema. Despite the increased budget afforded to the filmmakers, the film is still entirely rough around the edges. Some jokes land and others miss the mark entirely. Despite the rough edges, the warmth and heart of these characters remain intact and in the end it's not entirely difficult to root for these bumbling idiots, even if they've reached their expiry date.

The Inbetweeners 2 is aimed entirely at the fans. If you're already a diehard fan of this series, then you will probably enjoy spending (hopefully) one last time with these characters. If you're not a fan, then there is nothing here that will change your mind. Best to move on and let the fanbase have its fun.

(out of five)

-Daniel M



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