The hit TV show The Inbetweeners set out its stall right from the start. It was purely about four awkward teenage boys who were socially inept, boasted various degrees of intelligence and self-delusion, and were forever looking for a chance with the nearest pretty girl who paid them even a smidgen of attention. With this no-more-no-less attitude, the show pitched itself at a barely-heightened reality and thus guaranteed itself a broad audience. Their awkwardness was our awkwardness, only theirs was more intense. As you cringe at their exploits, you’re also thanking your deity of choice that your teen years were somewhat more straightforward.
So, when the inevitable leap to the big screen came along, our central quartet headed for a sun holiday full of sex, sangria and more sex. The phenomenon of leaping to the big screen just to go on holiday is nothing new amongst British sitcoms (Read Donald Clarke’s fine article on this distinctly 1970s phenomenon here). The Inbetweeners Movie adhered to that formula and made a mint. Old cast + new locations = win. Can we assume Number 2 will do something different?
Not bloody likely.
There is no incentive for series creators Damon Beesley and Iain Morris (taking over directing duties from Ben Palmer this time around) to try something new. The first film, overstretched as its conceit may be, proved too successful for them to rock the boat. Will (Simon Bird) is still a talkative specky-no-mates, and Neil (Blake Harrison) is still stupid beyond comprehension. Meanwhile, Simon (Joe Thomas) is still such a sucker for love that he’s caught in a relationship with borderline psychotic Lucy (Tamla Kari). Desperate for an escape, they decide to venture to Australia to see the perma-horny Jay (James Buckley) on his gap year. He’s sold them a cock-and-bull story of success as a DJ’ing lothario, and these boys clearly never learn. Imagine their surprise when they arrive in Aussieland to find no pimped-out mansion. Oh, boys.
Jay’s delusions about his success, sexual and otherwise, are but one element of Inbetweeners lore bolted firmly in place here. The four leads still rib each other over their sexual prowess, they still set themselves up for horrendous embarrassment, and they still share great chemistry. Despite all four leads now verging on their third decade, their charm has kept us on side thus far, whether in the form of Will’s wry self-admonishing voiceover or their constant sarcastic use of the word ‘brilliant’. The fact that these guys don’t seem to have matured much since secondary school is both pathetic and ripe for laughs. Maybe if they weren’t so self-obsessed, they mightn’t get into so much trouble? Then again, if you’re asking that question, you’re not the audience for The Inbetweeners 2. It’s unapologetic in its fan-pandering, but it’s a big audience so who wouldn’t pander? It’s everything an Inbetweeners fan could want.
The aforementioned charm helps The Inbetweeners 2 get over some pretty basic problems in transferring to the big screen. As with the first film, the change in locale doesn’t bring anything new to the table. After getting mixed up with a self-important group of gap-year students, the boys generally get into hijinks resulting in some bodily fluid or other getting slathered on someone. That’s the stock in trade here, and The Inbetweeners 2 delivers. Urine, faecal matter and innuendo are in plentiful supply. What is lacking is any kind of character development outside the central foursome. Will’s object of affection, Katie (Emily Berrington), isn’t much more than a pretty face, though she and her clique offer a chance to poke fun at the ‘gap-yah’ phenomenon, which the film rips into in fine style.
The film flits between Sydney, a water park, the Gold Coast and the Outback, with each scenario offering up ample opportunity for yuk-yuks (or just ‘yuk!’). Still, it’s hardly worth travelling halfway around the world when the boys could have got caught in similar situations closer to home. Agnes Brown didn’t have to leave Dublin to be stupid and successful; maybe The Inbetweeners could take a leaf from her book? (Presumably before one of them has to wipe themselves with it). At a little over 90 minutes, the film isn’t interested in being much more than an extended episode of the show, but since the show has ended that may be all the fans need. Buy ticket, laugh out loud, get turn on stomach, leave, forget.