The series has ended, and the channel that produced it may be off of our televisions soon, but Jack Whitehall’s hit BBC3 comedy Bad Education (which he created and stars in) is back for one last misadventure, on the big screen.
Whitehall’s lacklustre educator, Alfie Wickers, is determined to give his students the post-exam trip of a lifetime. With his parents blocking his plans for a trip to Las Vegas, Alfie decides to haul the kids from Class K to Cornwall. However, things derail quickly thanks to one overzealous mother, and Alfie becoming unwittingly caught up with the Cornish Liberation Army.
Much like the Inbetweeners films, the film centres on a trip gone wrong, and from the Amsterdam-based beginning, it’s clear that lowbrow is the order of the day. Anything that can be tripped over, dangled from or accidentally consumed is attacked with boundless enthusiasm by Whitehall, who puts it all on the line (in some cases quite literally) in pursuit of a laugh.
His energy is a big part of the film’s more enjoyable moments – whether it’s the look of crazed excitement as he re-creates his own ET homage, or his defiant cry of “It’s about to get Fifty Shades of Cray” when facing off with a bizarre local. He commits to every scene, no matter how ludicrous, making a lot of the sillier moments work.
Taking the series’ humour and turning up the volume, many of the jokes are near the knuckle, and while some will have fans of the show doubled over, there is inevitably the occasional misfire. In particular, a gag with a hamster feels unnecessary, and characters (old and new) stick to some very rigid stereotypes.
Still, with so many punchlines packed in to the swift running time, there will be as many chuckles as there are groans. The film also takes cheeky jabs at Cornish culture, but takes full advantage of the county’s more impressive settings – Tom Cruise may hang from tall skyscrapers, but he’s never zip-wired half-naked over the Eden Project.
Whitehall is joined by the original TV cast, who all have their moments. Class K’s chorus of misbehaving students are quick with a sharp comeback, while Harry Enfield shines among the adult contingent, playing Alfie’s lovably oblivious dad with many of the best lines (“I’ve told the PE teacher over and over: touch rugby? Fine; Touch swimming? Letters.”).
Of the new additions, Game of Thrones regular Iain Glen fits in well as the film’s villain, a smuggler with ties to Cornish extremists, adding a West Country twang to his rumbling tones. There are also some Hollywood names thrown into the mix. Jeremy Irvine (War Horse) pops up as the public school boy from Hell, while The Wire actor Clarke Peters looks bewildered by the bedlam as a police commander.
Silly and certainly not for the faint-hearted, The Bad Education Movie will leave newcomers either offended or bemused, and it’s hard to see where any potential sequel could go from here (maybe that trip to Vegas?). Nevertheless, it achieves its goal to entertain fans of the TV series with much of the same, on a wider canvas, including a typically chaotic finale.