Director: Ben Palmer
Starring: Simon Bird, James Buckley, Joe Thomas, Blake Harrison
I went into ‘The Inbetweeners Movie’ with reserved expectations. After the television cult hit turned into a national phenomenon there was huge expectations for this film to be a success; both financially and with audiences, and more often than not, the transition from the small to the silver screen is rarely achieved with a great deal of success.
The TV show came out of nowhere and instantly became a firm favourite amongst audiences both young and old. Word of mouth spread, so much so that you would be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t heard of ‘The Inbetweeners’ let alone seen it. The TV show worked because it rang so true with a lot of adolescent people as well as the older generation. They saw elements of themselves or someone they knew in each of the characters as well as the situations they find themselves in. Everyone knows, or at least, knew someone like Jay or had a friend as dim as Neil. This was honest, edgy television. The jump from television to film is often a risky business and disappointment lies in wait for many; low points include ‘Mrs Brown’s Boys D’ Movie’ and ‘The Keith Lemon Movie’. Other than the frankly brilliant ‘Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa’, TV adaptations tend to aim low and eventually sink even lower. With ‘The Inbetweeners Movie’, however, the laughter began within the first few minutes.
The story centres on Will, Simon, Neil and Jay on their first holiday abroad after finishing college. Simon has an ulterior motive in that he is trying to chase down Carly, the love of his life, unbeknownst to the rest of the boys. Director Ben Palmer has managed to make the transition with the characters and style to the big screen with ease. The direction feels assured and confident. I believe this is down to a (mostly) well written script that perfectly encapsulates the dangerous unknown of a first “lad’s” holiday. Through perfectly judged observations of the 18-30’s holiday experience and ultra-vulgar dialogue, the film manages to create a balance between bringing a cinematic edge to TV characters without sacrificing what we loved about the TV show.
Performances are as expected in the film, but I have always thought the stand out performance was James Buckley. He manages to allow the softer underbelly of his character Jay, to peek through the endless verbal diarrhoea he spouts. This is also down to clever writing; making a character so repellent and yet so loveable is no mean feat. Why are we fond of him? Because Jay reminds us of our younger days. He reminds us of a time when all young men peacocked and embellished the truth about their sex lives. Jay is a keenly observed character who exhibits all the insecurities of youth.
Many have criticised both the TV show and the film of misogyny; a claim you can understand because of it’s terribly sexualised dialogue and choice of phrases towards and about women. I have heard some critics say that nobody speaks like these characters and that it does not represent the real youth of today. I disagree. Mainly because I have heard similar disgusting things said about the opposite sex in my time at school, and to be honest, much more recently. That’s not to say it justifies the language towards women. It doesn’t. I just think the film depicts misogyny rather than it being itself misogynist.
The film isn’t flawless however. The humour often strays into lowbrow toilet humour, which in fits and spurts is not a bad thing, but it occasionally creeps over the edge into comedic desperation. I am often aware that toilet humour is often a substitute for whit and intelligence (although it has been done well in films like Dumb and Dumber). These points do not completely spoil the fun, though; as the film is filled with some razor sharp one liners and brilliant observations.
The chemistry between the leads is what really matters though. We forgive their foibles because they are, at their core, good people trying to fit in a world working so hard to reject them. And that’s what audiences have responded to and loved for so long.