The Inbetweeners 2 Review
Reviewed by Mark McCullough.
In 2011 we were treated to The Inbetweeners Movie, a story which was meant to signify the end of the story for each of the four main protagonists: Will (Simon Bird), Simon (Joe Thomas), Jay (James Buckley) and Neil (Blake Harrison). The film went on to have the most successful UK opening night for a comedy and received strong reviews. As a coming of age story it provided an extremely satisfactory conclusion to the highly popular television series. It developed each of the characters to what felt like a natural end for them.
Now, three years later Britain’s four most lovable teenagers are back on the big screen. This however presents a problem: Do the boys (now men) have another story to be told? Or is it a case of a commercial cash cow dragged out for another milking? The Inbetweeners’ name has grown so big that the film is guaranteed to sell tickets. What it will be judged upon however is if it can be successful of emulating the charm of the Television Series and if it can offer something more to the characters involved.
Unfortunately their happy endings seem to have been abandoned by the start of this film with Will and Jay back to being single. As for Simon his relationship with Lucy (Tamla Kari) takes a turn for the worse as he learns that people are not the same on holiday as they are in daily life. Naturally, this provides a source for many comic moments throughout the course of the story. Will’s relationship with Alison (Laura Haddock who does not appear in this film) is thought to have ended off screen and is not acknowledged until midway through the film. To be honest I found this a little disappointing as a central theme to The Inbetweeners right from its inception was Will trying to get a girlfriend. So for him to have finally found a relationship, then to have it end without explaining why just doesn’t sit right. In fact it seems like a wasted opportunity to develop Will’s character further. Neil meanwhile is the same as always with his innocence/lack of intelligence leading to several situations where you can’t help but laugh.
Despite the fact that Will is the narrator (as with the series and first movie) the film focuses mostly on Jay and his quest to be reunited with his girlfriend following a split up. His journey takes him on a ‘gap year’ to Australia, the sex capital of the world as Jay so eloquently puts it. Following an email from Jay to the rest of the boys, they end up running from their problems to join him for a ‘holiday’. When they realise the true reason Jay is there and the situation that he finds himself in, they do as all good friends do and offer to help. Will however has his attention focussed on a woman (It wouldn’t be The Inbetweeners without it) in the form of Katie (Emily Berrington). An epic journey begins, one which leads from a water park to the Australian Outback with insults and humour packed along the way.
It’s not all laughs though as the film also has a very poignant side to it. Jay’s plight makes it impossible not to feel empathy for the character. Coupled with the subtle undertones of his relationship with his father and we see a whole new side to his character. Each of the main cast gives a stellar performance in the roles that they have grown into and made their own over the course of three series and two films. Their timing and delivery of their lines (and body language) is pitch perfect and can swing the tone of the film from light-hearted in a matter of frames. The supporting cast also offer a top drawer performance with highlights including Belinda Stewart- Wilsons take on Will’s clumsy mother, Freddie Stroma’s portrayal of Ben, and finally David Schaal’s take on Jay’s Australian uncle.
Humour was always going to the main aspect of the film. Unfortunately it relies heavily on jokes of the cruder variety, with a particular overreliance on full male nudity. Whilst still funny, at times the crudeness pushes it beyond the point of humour where it becomes tedious. Thankfully most of the films laughs come from the interactions of the characters with each other and the circumstances they find themselves in. Credit also has to be given to the directors for their use of cinematography; several scenes are made infinitely funnier by the camera placement allowing for reaction of onlookers to be shown. Another source of humour is the use of the Australian stereotype, like with the crudeness, this is sometimes pushed too far (One could argue that it borders on racism). However the crudeness and stereotyping are given somewhat of a bye-ball because they are part of what gives The Inbetweeners its soul. It feels as if the writers have given it a little too much to try to ensure that the film holds true to its roots. This is a shame as in reality if they had relied more on the talents of the actors and cut the forced humour, the film may have reached that perfect balance which I feel it was so close to reaching.
As with all comedies, how much a viewer enjoys the film is very subjective. The variation from person to person can be extreme. As a fan of the series I probably have a slight bias that was always going to allow me to enjoy the film more as I was already invested in the characters. That said the volume of jokes was such that if one was not to your taste it didn’t really matter. I found it impossible to go any longer than a minute without laughing. This, at the end of the day, if you have paid to see a comedy, is exactly what you were looking for. Will we see a third film? I would say it is unlikely, in fact I hope we don’t. The Inbetweeners 2 works well as an ending for the story, although not as good an ending as its predecessor