The Inbetweeners 2

Year: 2014
Director: Damon Beesley and Iain Morris
Starring: Simon Bird, James Buckley, Blake Harrison, Joe Thomas
Written by Chris Winterbottom

‘The Inbetweeners Movie’ was a box office sensation here in the UK. It caught many cinemas by surprise at just how many people went to see the film; baffling considering how popular the TV show was and still is. Critics and audiences alike, were pleased to see that the film had succeeded in adapting the show to the big screen, but the warmth of the film and its trademark, hilariously juvenile humour lead to an overwhelming victory and cries for a sequel.

So it was as predictable as a Ronaldo hat-trick that a sequel would quickly get the green light; a film does not make the money it did without sprouting a further instalment. If I was quietly nervous about whether the first film would be any good, I was genuinely terrified with how a sequel would perform. Three years passed between the first movie and its successor, perhaps showing that Iain Morris and Damon Beasley, who step into the director’s chair, were having a good old think about where their much loved characters would be and what cringe-worthy scenarios they could be placed in.

The film sees the boys go off on another holiday, or travelling as Will so adamantly puts it. They head to Australia to see Jay, who is taking a year out while the rest are at university (aside from Neil, of course). Jay, however, has an ulterior motive with his presence in Oz; is this starting to sound familiar? The film opens in typical fashion. The boys attend a house party where they are not wanted. You’d think hilarity would ensue. But unfortunately, the joke falls flat. Not in a catastrophic way but more in a manner which grossly disappoints you. This would have been (and in certain episodes was) sharp and witty in the TV show, but the joke only plays as a reminder of why ‘The Inbetweeners’ used to be funny and relevant. It’s ironic then, that this opening gag highlights the fact that Will and his friends seem old-hat and out of place, even after a short absence of three years.

The film starts off stuttering and doesn’t ever really recover. The performances are good, aside from the fact that Neil is becoming a gradually more annoying, but the jokes feel tired and drained. Morris and Beasley do their best to coax any remaining laughter from the audience, but the only noise I could hear was the piercing sound of them scraping the barrel. That’s not to say all the jokes are bad. In fact there is a running joke throughout about the hippy, holier-than-thou attitude of some “travellers” that rings desperately true. In fact, this is an observation so real to me, that I genuinely forgot to laugh. That’s not a criticism of the joke; in fact I can give it no higher praise. It takes a joke of real quality to become so truthful, so full of whit, intelligence and a genuine understanding of what it is sending up, to stun an audience quiet. It is intelligent writing which belongs in a film much more inspired than this one.

The running joke about “travellers” just about saves the film, and the warmth of the characters remain. But ‘The Inbetweeners 2’ is all too familiar. Most of the jokes really flop (Neil kills a dolphin by the way, don’t ask) and often stray, once again into toilet humour territory. The first film managed to find a balance between low brow comedy and neat observations. It’s sequel abandons that discipline and goes for broke with its poo and penis jokes. The water park scene is funny, but this is not a film that deserves repeated viewings unlike the first film and, more importantly, the TV show. I have said that resorting to such an abundance of toilet humour emphasises a lack of ideas; this film is another great example of this. The film is not awful, but ‘The Inbetweeners’ franchise and its directors are capable of, and deserve better.