Title: The Inbetweeners
Starring: James Buckley, Blake Harrison, Joe Thomas Simon Bird
Director: Ben Palmer
looking like the world's shittest boyband, we hit the town.”
Unless you've been living under a rock for the past three years, or perhaps are simply not from the UK (I'm not sure how wide a release it's been given but suspect my American brothers won't hear of it until they announce they're ripping it off and creating a sub-par US version, don't even get me started on the latest atrocity known as Shameless US, ugh) then you'll have at the least heard of the tragic plight of these four school boys, muddling their way through at the bottom rung of the social ladder in their noble sexual conquests. There's the one who pretends to know everything there is to know about sex, Jay (James Buckley); the hopeless romantic, Simon (Joe Thomas); the complete and utter nerd, Will (Simon Bird); and the lovable happy moron Neil (Blake Harrison), each character bringing something unique to the table and allowing for comedy to emerge by the truckload. And for those aware of the series, they've tried to up the ante for their big finish, with more sex, booze, mishaps and chaos then ever before; more penises and bare asses than the boobs and booty that they so long for, and unless your humour reaches the upper echelons of what's deemed acceptable then you might want to approach this one with caution.
With a opening cameo between Anthony Stewart Head, Will's father, alongside Will himself, things looked to be shaping themselves up to be rather promising, but it was not all to be. The plot is about as tired and predictable as they come, feeling like little more than an episode stretched out to breaking point. It all starts off with them deciding to take a boys holiday to Greece, filled with all the partying they can muster. It's the classic way of extending a show into film territory; toss in a new location, a couple of new characters, a break up, make-up, and then they get the girls. It's all about as horrifically overdone and cliché as it sounds; the budget has gone to work in the locations and the number of new characters being introduced, but none of them add anything more than a new direction for the stars to find humour, leaving any time they spend trying to flesh them out as more than two-dimensional objects for affection coming off flat and unenthusiastic. We know precisely how the film is going to end barely before it really starts to begin, and at times this causes it to become painfully dull.
Fortunately this film carries the same ace up its sleeve that made the show such a joy to watch; it's crass, crude, witty, often childish and yet it never fails to make its comedic impact (if you thought 'American Pie' was bad, oh boy...) Much of the comedy derives from just how hopelessly tragic their situation is but in equal proportion is the manner it lets you reminisce over yourself at that age; I see more than a touch of Will in my own youth (including parents creepily enough); one of my close friends is a spitting image of what would happen if Neil and Simon combined, and everyone must have known a 'Jay' growing up (mine was named James Angove and yes he was a bit of a tosser but still seemed to have friends). It may make slight caricatures of the classic characters we all once knew but it never quite loses its footing on reality; it never strays into the realm of unbelievability, at least until the very end when the posse of lovable yet completely self-absorbed and misogynistic morons actually get the girls without growing up first. There's little here that feels particularly clever and yet that's part of it's charm; the inherent simplicity of it all belying the difficulties in packing in so many hilarious situations in sequence. There aren't many guarantees in life but tried and tested in my packed out local cinema, that this film will have you in stitches is one of them; competent enough to stand on its own merits but just falls short of the greatness the show had to offer.