Review: The Inbetweeners Movie (2011)

DIRECTOR: Ben Palmer.

CAST: Simon Bird, James Buckley, Joe Thomas, Blake Harrison, Laura Haddock, Lydia Rose Bewley, Emily Head, Tamla Kari, Jessica Knappett, Theo James, Theo Barklem-Biggs.

SYNOPSIS: With A Levels behind them and a long summer ahead of them, Will (Bird), Jay (Buckley), Simon (Thomas) and Neil (Harrison) go surprisingly mainstream and book a two-week holiday to Malia. Cue sun, sea, girls and an amazing holiday. Or is that sunburn, seasickness and a lot of awkward girl chasing?

The Inbetweeners was the one programme I really wanted to hate. I didn’t believe people spoke that way or acted out those types of events in real life. But quite honestly it’s all Freudian and it’s probably because I knew my mum would heartily disapprove. So after following the adventures of Will, Jay, Simon and Neil and finally admitting to myself that it’s a guilty pleasure, I was more than a little intrigued as to the fate of the film.

Leaving (mainly bad) memories of school behind, the boys have finished their A Levels and are off to Malia after a varied array of results. Although many people have negatively viewed the change of a comfortable and familiar surrounding in favour of a holiday destination, the buzzing chemistry between the four leads shows that they can cause mischief anywhere; it is the quality of material that pulls them through. Where the individual characters could have become stale and predictable, it is testament to Bird, Buckley, Thomas and Harrison that the lads are still as stupid but easy to love as ever.

Where unnecessary pauses cropped up during dialogue in the series, the editing here is far slicker, the pace and timing between the boys the most impressive it’s ever been, even if it seems the best jokes still remain within the show. But don’t fear, the cringe factor is still here in extreme force, with Simon’s unorthodox ways of pursuing love, Will’s ability to talk himself deeper and deeper into a hole, Neil’s absurd brain functions and Jay’s, well, just Jay really. Always a favourite during the series, namely due to punching a fish to death, it is surprisingly Neil who steals the show. Oddly endearing, Blake Harrison really has found a great character in Neil. His so bad it’s good dancing, love for older women, unconventional fake tanning methods and bizarre ramblings make for brilliant watching; a contemporary, but much dimmer younger brother for Only Fools and Horses’ Rodney, perhaps.

If the boys are ballsy and fun loving, the four leading ladies definitely give fair game, coaxing the lads on with midnight skinny-dipping and drunken boat trips. Laura Haddock was a wonderful bit of casting and for those of you who recognise her but can’t place the face, it’s probably due to her roles in ITV’s Monday Monday and BBC Three’s very quirky How Not To Live Your Life. A natural beauty with a great sense of humour, her Alison is an authentic, normal girl – a stark difference from a lot of the characters I had trouble believing really existed in the show.

Jane – aka ‘The Fat Girl Jay Gets Stuck With’ – is so much more than the stereotype. And actually not fat, which does beg the question of whether people would be quite so harsh in real life. She’s a wonderful addition to the group, different to previous girls who were set upon pedestals as ‘the fittest girl at school’ and all that jazz throughout the series.

The boys bicker, play fight and mock each other constantly, but they are growing up in front of our eyes having just left school and that is the fundamental essence of the story here. It may not be to everybody’s taste, as a lot of people will want their Inbetweeners to remain moral free, but the writers did the absolute right thing with this finish to the cult phenomenon. I also think they made a very brave decision with how they developed Carli’s character, adding a surprising element of realism to the film. But don’t worry, The Inbetweeners is still unashamedly stupid, full of Jay’s inventive curse filled sentences that could rival even those of Peter Capaldi’s Malcolm Tucker and full to the brim with cringe worthy set pieces and incredibly inappropriate moments. This completely different bunch of teenagers form the perfect team on TV and the big screen.

Sending the boys out on a high, this is a very impressive directorial debut from Ben Palmer. Writers Iain Morris and Damon Beesley have subtly fleshed out the characters, giving the boys breathing room to grow up (a little). If they stayed on exactly the same maturity level as the first series, they would have begun to feel tired, unrealistic and potentially stuck at this age forever – who wants to see them playing exactly the same characters into their thirties? Joe Thomas and Simon Bird are already 27. By writing it the way they did, Morris and Beesley let the lads run riot, but paved a possible path for their individual futures.

VERDICT: 4/5

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