The Inbetweeners 2 Review
Who would have thought that the hapless quartet of Will, Jay, Neil and Simon, who first graced our televisions in 2008, would be culpable for 2014’s biggest UK cinema release with the next instalment in The Inbetweeners legacy, conveniently named The Inbetweeners 2. Exploring the difficulties of being in the middle section of England’s social youth strata, neither nerd nor one of the cool kids, the sitcom blossomed into one of the country’s greatest comedies, magnificently satirising the struggles of growing up and fitting in as well as gifting us phrases like ‘knee deep in clunge’, ‘buswankers’ and ‘bumder’, a cross between a bender and a bummer obviously.
After three excellent series and a film that seamlessly, and successfully, translated the comedy to the big screen the unlikely lads have returned with their latest outing into gap year travelling territory. With Jay (James Buckley), the vulgar, sex obsessed serial liar one, apparently living a life of luxury down under on his gap year the rest of the gang are convinced to join him in an inevitably ill-fated journey; that is Will (Simon Bird,), the sensible one, Simon (Joe Thomas), the one with a hopeless love life and Neil (Blake Harrison), the simple one.
With any television comedy to film adaptation there are the usual concerns, will it remain fresh for the extended running time, can the jokes be as funny and will it be able to balance new scenarios with familiar notions?
The first Inbetweeners film, much to my surprise and delight, managed to be as funny and satirical as anything from the TV show, while excellently graduating the comedy from the school setting to the English right of way that is a summer lads holiday. Despite commercial and critical accolades it felt as though the film had gotten away with it somewhat, it could quite easily have been an overly long episode without any of the wit or humour on show, sadly The Inbetweeners 2 is everything that it was feared its predecessor could have been. That’s not to say that The Inbetweeners 2 is a painful car crash of crude unfunny action, it’s still enjoyable viewing for fans of the sitcom but it’s an undoubted low point in the story- the jokes are tiring, that niche setting and humour doesn’t elicit the same level of laughs it did six, or even three, years ago.
Essentially it’s the sequel nobody needed.
Creators of the series, Damon Beesley and Iain Morris, have crumbled at the thought of producing another 96 minutes worth of sterling post pubescent banter for the gang, instead a majority of the jokes boil down to crude offerings of toilet humour that hope to shock. There’s sick, dick, poo, piss and even references to Jimmy Saville, it all just feels a bit weak, pathetic and lagging off the pulse that the series usually prides itself on. The series has dabbled in projectile vomiting and shitting yourself before, but this time the vulgar scenes feel obligatory and unimaginative, presenting themselves as evidence of a script low on original material.
The whole script feels tired and repetitive; Jay’s elaborate lies and Neil’s incomprehensibly stupid moments are bigger and more frequent than ever but half as funny as they once were, this essentially sums up the whole film- it’s just a larger, diluted dose of Inbetweeners’ humour without any clever twists, unique moments or freshness. Despite a short running time the film struggles to match it, epitomised by the paltry attempt at an ending to the non-existent narrative. The film reeks of an ill thought out cash in; there’s barely enough good material for an episode let alone a whole film and it shows with the quality and quantity of comedy on offer.
By grace of their previously unblemished record the film does have its fair share of entertaining moments, mostly related to taking the piss out of gap years and the many pretentious tossers who narcissistically laud finding themselves and saving orphans over the rest of us. Will’s rants over spirituality and Jay’s disdainful slating of those abominations that play guitar round the camp fire are genuinely hilarious moments, sadly the satire on gap years is sort lived and plays second fiddle to irrelevant forced gags. Unlike its predecessor, who milked Malia for all its positive worth, notably the introduction of love interests for each of the boys, The Inbetweeners 2 wastes the potential of comedic travelling and gap years, in fact a whole series following the boys embarrassing themselves travelling would have been a much better idea.
The Inbetweeners has run parallel with my life, for those in their mid-twenties now these boys perfectly summed up the perils of coming of age, but now all these years later, maybe its moment has passed, times have changed and what was funny as a seventeen year old isn’t as funny now. This latest film regresses back to a brand of brash humour that should really have been manipulated greater than it has, people change yet the Inbetweeners are stuck in time more immature than ever.
Will, Jay, Simon and Neil will always hold a special place in many people’s hearts, few have captured the joys, and horrors, of being young in England, yet sadly the boys may have reached the end of the line. The Inbetweeners 2 never needed to be made and that’s how the end product feels- shallow, repetitive and clutching at straws for how to keep it going past the hour mark. Like any successful comedy The Inbetweeners will conjure laughs regardless of the quality of the film, it’s a shame that this time it’s coasted off previous achievements.
Amazingly, The Inbetweeners 2 has brought in £12.5 million of revenue in five days, the film may not deserve such numbers but the cultural and comedic impact of Will, Jay, Simon and Neil’s lives on screen means you can’t begrudge them laughing all
the way to the bank.
4/10- Not such epic bantz