Saturday, 10 November 2012

Film Review | The Inbetweeners Movie (2011)

Big screen adaptations of British comedy series have an underwhelming history to say the least. It's hard to pick out a truly memorable example, even harder to think of one that seemed genuinely worthwhile. The Monty Python team arguably have the best record in this area, but then three out of their four film efforts were entirely original with only the actors and their brand of humour making the transfer to cinema. The Inbetweeners Movie, the newest entry in this esoteric genre, had the chance to buck the trend. It doesn't quite manage it, but that doesn't mean that it's a complete misfire.

Serving as an finale to the three series of The Inbetweeners, the film follows the misadventures of Will (Simon Bird), Simon (Joe Thomas), Jay (James Buckley) and Neil (Blake Harrison) as they head off to Crete for a debauched summer holiday after finishing their final term at college.

If you're not a fan of The Inbetweeners on TV, then the film is very unlikely to win you over as a fan. If, however, you can't get enough of the four boys' lewd and crude antics, The Inbetweeners Movie will probably become a firm favourite within the first five minutes of its running time. The Inbetweeners was the first sitcom I watched that I genuinely felt I was too old to fully appreciate; whilst I don't count myself as a fan, I can see why it is popular with a teenage and university student audience. The film version neither won me over any more, nor pushed me further away.

The humour is often low-brow in the extreme, at times pushing things so far as to lose the focus that what you're seeing is meant to make you laugh rather than retch. The film is actually at its funniest when not plumbing the depths of decency, with some spot-on visual jokes - Neil, Simon and Will busting some moves in a deserted club to impress a group of girls is uncannily funny - and sparks of brilliance here and there in the writing. Greg Davies' candid head of sixth form Mr. Gilbert's farewell speech to his students near the start of the film is an undeniable highlight.

What plot there is comes and goes, with the film much more often moving episodically from one scenario to the next leaving this regularly coming across like an extended episode of the series. It's possibly a little too long, at times feeling as though director Ben Palmer is treading water between one joke and the next. But the strong and winning performances from the central four, with Bird and Buckley impressing the most, and the fact that each undergoes some form of development from the start of the film to the end, means that this is on the whole more success than failure. Much of what is here is throwaway entertainment that won't stay with you much past the credits rolling, but there's enough here to make The Inbetweeners Movie an unchallenging but enjoyable watch.


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