Review: The Inbetweeners 2 (2014)
Directors: Damon Beesley & Iain Morris
Screenwriters: Damon Beesley & Iain Morris
Cast: Simon Bird, James Buckley, Blake Harrison, Joe Thomas, Emily Berrington, Freddie Stroma, Tamla Kari & Lucy Cohu
Runtime: 96 min // Certificate: 15
The Inbetweeners is definitely a sitcom of its time. It first aired when I was about 18, and though I didn’t recognise much of myself in any of the four major characters, I saw the traits of people I knew in practically every joke, scene or individual character. As an uncritical look at modern, white, Southern, middle-class, English youth The Inbetweeners was a great success, albeit one without much rewatch value. “Humorous” quotes from the show have seeped into the national zeitgeist in a way unrivalled by any other comic creations of the last 20 years, with the possible exception of Alan Partridge, while its appeal has surprisingly managed to break down generational divides, with teenagers and their parents seemingly enjoying it in equal measure.
However, the crude, crass humour in which The Inbetweeners generally dabbles can only be stretched so far before it snaps, as evidenced by the show’s lacklustre final series and a movie adaptation that failed to live up to even the most modest audience expectations. In many ways, the first film perfectly mirrored the evolution of the TV show in that act one was decent, act two was so-so and act three was a complete disaster. This sequel, which sees everyone’s favourite wankers embark on a mini “gap yah” in Australia (because, as we all know, Holiday on the Buses is the high watermark of sitcom adaptations…) dispenses with the formality of even pretending to bear much real resemblance to the TV show and just throws itself in at the deep end, recapturing everything that was wrong with its predecessor while only sporadically offering anything in the way of intelligent or thoughtful humour.
“Intelligent or thought humour… in an Inbetweeners movie… what were you expecting!” I hear you cry. Well, no, obviously I wasn’t expecting the next Manhattan… though oh my god, can someone please start a campaign to get Woody Allen to write, direct and star in The Inbetweeners 3? It could be a 90 minute sex-comedy that explores the Freudian implications of the boys’ attraction to Will’s Mum, and it’d be BRILLIANT! Ahem, anyway, moving on… So yeah, I wasn’t expecting much, but the first series of The Inbetweeners, though crass, crude, vulgar and hilarious, also felt like it bore some resemblance to the real World. It felt like a recognisably English sitcom, about English teenagers doing typically English things. The Inbetweeners 2, by contrast, is just bonkers. Not that I have a problem with that, but I wanted a lot more than what this film ultimately offered.
I won’t go into detail about the jokes because I don’t want to ruin them, but The Inbetweeners 2 – like its predecessor – feels like two episodes of the show padded out to cover the length of four. Don’t get me wrong, it’s all quite funny and it does exactly what you expect it to do, but personally I couldn’t shake the rather tragic fact that I was watching four grown men, the youngest of whom turns 27 next week, pretending to be teenagers. You look behind their eyes and you see nothing but despair that they’re all now typecast as “loveable LADS” for the rest of their careers. The passion for the project is gone, and though everyone does just about enough to muster up the laughs, it is a classic example of a film that simply goes through the motions for 90 minutes.
The Inbetweeners 2 does exactly what you want it to do; no more, no less. It’s a passable comedy that gets the job done without causing too much offence (despite all of the vulgarity, it’s never mean-spirited or unnecessarily nasty) and then finishes. That’s it. It exists, I had a mildly enjoyable time watching it and I didn’t feel like my liberal, politically correct sensibilities were being attacked at any moment. There’s nothing else to say. It’s just a perfectly adequate but wholly forgettable comedy.