After 2011’s record-breaking first big screen misadventure, TV comedy The Inbetweeners gets a second cinematic instalment. With all signs pointing to it being the last hurrah (although that’s what they said about the first film), here the frustrated foursome head Down Under for the inevitably titled The Inbetweeners 2.
We rejoin Wlll (Simon Bird, who doesn’t seem to have aged a day in the three year absence) at university, where he is just as unpopular as he was at school. Things are not that much better for Simon (Joe Thomas), who has moved uni to be with his somewhat over-attached girlfriend. Neil (Blake Harrison) is, well, still Neil, but all three are badly in need of a change of scenery. Their prayers seem to be answered via an email from Jay (James Buckley), boasting about his wonderful life in Australia. Once they arrive, however, things are far from how their friend described. But the boys still embark on their own Oz adventure, more than slightly motivated by Will’s crush on beautiful backpacker Katie (Emily Berrington).
They say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And while there is enough freshness in this sequel to keep things from feeling repetitive, series creators Damon Beesley and Iain Morris (both in the director’s chairs this time) know what works and stick to it. There is plenty of face-palming awkwardness (Will’s campfire serenade is the stuff of hilarious nightmares) and, as with last time, the gross-out humour is turned up for the big screen – you may never visit a water park again. For all the familiar ground, there are also some clever ribs at gap year culture. The circle of hatefully hip, “spiritual” travellers that Will desperately tries to fall in with will be familiar to many, and give you a reason to root for our heroes, no matter how desperate they become.
Six years on from first walking through the gates of Rudge Park Comprehensive, it’s impressive that the leads find somewhere new to go with their characters – all except for Neil, who remains hilariously ignorant and once again is the film’s secret weapon. Jay conceals a broken heart under all his foul-mouthed bravado, Simon watches helplessly as he slides further towards a horrific future, and Will, almost tragically, still presses his face up to the window of popularity. Series regulars make fleeting but welcome appearances, but most of the supporting cast is hit and miss, and only useful for getting the lads to the next gag.
There are flaws, which mostly lie in the film’s determination to appeal squarely to fans. Some of the more acerbic moments just come across as cruel, while the vulgar humour may leave you gagging as much as chuckling. A strong note is never far away, however, and, like the series, this is at its best when balancing on the line between brilliant and unbearable. The Inbetweeners 2 is unlikely to win over non-fans, although given the success that drove this sequel to happen, that may not matter. The film does the series justice, and those who were waiting with bated breath will not be disappointed. Chaotic, crass and cringeworthy, but still lovable – if this is goodbye then it’s a fitting way to bow out.