Review: The Inbetweeners Movie

(Ben Palmer, 2011)

Shrugging off the tumultuous affair British Television has with transplanting its best loved shows from small screen to big, with previous attempts in the form of Ali G Indahouse (2002) and Kevin and Perry Go Large (2000) failing to project themselves cinematically, The Inbetweeners Movie now makes the unsteady transition from its wildly popular televisual roots to feature length material as Will, Jay, Simon and Neil are given perhaps one last time to shine together before their impending, though scarcely assured, maturity.

Amongst copious smatterings of crudity, nudity and bad language, which the film retains to the nth degree, the finest qualities of the show was the way it teased out a resonance amongst its fairly convoluted fictions, vocalising the gawky losers and loveable underdogs whilst observing a friendship as believable as it was commonplace. Each of the four leading lads tapped into a personality archetype we are all mostly aware of in our own social circles, and faced them with the sort of adolescent predicaments that made us all collectively blush with familiarity. Yes, amidst all the embarrassing sexual encounters, social inadequacies and fish pummelling, The Inbetweeners knew its characters as much as its audience and ran with it until its open-ended third season finale, a bookmark now revisited by extending the story and offering the crowd-pleasing answer of what happened next.

Jetting the quadruple off to the adolescent-beckoning clubbing behemoth that is Malia, Crete; the go-to destination for youngsters pining for sun, sea, sex and wish fulfilment, the movie version succeeds by pitting its protagonists against a world entirely alien to them, juxtaposing their small scale London suburb antics with the flashing lights and open-buttoned nature of Malia’s infamous ‘strip’, a holiday destination built on frivolity. As soon as they assume their positions as small fish in a very big, alcohol-soaked pond, the film finds its fast moving, though sometimes aimless groove, throwing the characters into toe-curling, obscene and incredibly funny situations as they come to terms with their buzzing surroundings. Mimicking the quickfire progression of the narrative (as slight as it sometimes is), the gag ratio is incredibly high with a multitude of jokes arriving thick and fast, most of which predominantly aimed at the misfortunes of each respective character, be it poolside nudity, sun lotion expletives and toilet confusion, and yet despite a few of the jokes being hit and miss and predictable, they are delivered with the sort of freshness and believability the show has become synonymous with. The four leads exude the dopiness of their sex-crazed characters effortlessly, despite looking older than what they are meant to be conveying.

It’s not all crassness, however, as the screenplay, penned by series scribes Iain Morris and Damon Beesley, manages to find room for emotional clarification amongst all the barmy dancing and genitalia bashing, as the characters come to the realisation that this really may be the last time they are together as a group before their looming ascension to university, with compulsive liar Jay (James Buckley, who excels) left reeling from the fact he may be left high and dry. It’s this deftly handled mixture of premature humiliation and a tender examination of adolescent friendship that overshines the fairly preposterous idealism of each character finding their female equivalent, for whom they all eventually fall, something that gives The Inbetweeners Movie its own disbelief-suspended version of a happy ending, and it’s an ending that diehard fans of the show could not have asked more from, even if it does put an indefinite end to the tale. Though I am sure we will be knee-deep in further outings soon enough.

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