As far as film adaptations of British television shows go, The Inbetweeners Movie is among the very best, which is probably faint praise considering the competition includes Kevin and Perry Go Large, Holiday on the Buses and Love Thy Neighbour. It helps that this one is based on better source material than those aforementioned misfires, though the flick can’t help but continue the long-standing tradition of transporting its pale TV cast to a summery, cinematic, bosom-filled destination. Series creators Damon Beesley and Iain Morris have written the script and director Ben Palmer returns to helm, meaning the The Inbetweeners Movie feels much like the program (both a compliment and a criticism). It may not add a definitive or satisfying coda to the end of the occasionally-sweet and always-debauched series, but it never outstays its welcome. That alone is a massive achievement considering the length is more than three times that of an episode. Also, it’s very, very funny.
Simon Bird, Joe Thomas, James Buckley and Blake Harrison all reunite as teenage outcasts Will, Simon, Jay and Neil. Free from the horrors of high school, the foursome decide to blow off some steam and celebrate the end of their adolescence in Crete. Will’s eager to lose his virginity before heading off to uni, Simon’s recovering from being dumped by his soul-mate Carli (Emily Head), Jay wants to do some truly horrendous, unprintable things to the womenfolk and Neil is just happy being Neil. It seems as if their attempts to romance the locals will go as disastrously as it did back in the UK. Until (!) they meet a genuinely sweet and like-minded quartet of English ladies (Laura Haddock, Tamla Kari, Jessica Knappett, Lydia Rose Bewley) who aren’t immediately repulsed by them, even though that would be a totally reasonable response.
Despite the change in location and a couple of playful montage sequences, Palmer has no real interest in making this look too much like a movie. The screenplay, however, mostly manages to escape that episodic feeling that bogs similar TV-to-film translations. You can perhaps pin that on the richness of the characters – who are relatable, foolish, surprisingly thoughtful and inherently likable despite their coarseness – as well as the performances, rather than the construction of the narrative (which is almost entirely absent).
But it’s hard to care about ‘arc’ or ‘structure’ when a film is this consistently hilarious. Fans of the show have little to worry about in regards to whether its sense of humour has been retained for the big screen. Also still in fine form: the outrageous vulgarity. Those familiar with The Inbetweeners hardly need warning, but they’ll appreciate the fact the crudity has been kicked up a notch in accordance with their graduation from the small to the big screen. There is one fan complaint however: not nearly enough Greg Davies as hateful head-of-year Mr. Gilbert. It seems unlikely we’ll see a sequel to The Inbetweeners Movie (despite its blockbuster box office success), but I’d much prefer a Gilbert spin-off anyway.
The Inbetweeners Movie is now showing in Australian cinemas.