Wednesday, November 30, 2011

New Release Review: The Inbetweeners (Ben Palmer, 2011)

The Inbetweeners Movie is a British teen comedy based on the popular and award-wining E4 sitcom of the same name, serving as an ending to the television series after three seasons. The film is written by the series creators Damon Beesley and Iain Morris, with Ben Palmer taking the directors reigns, but it feels like less of an example of the consistently witty and inappropriate hilarity of the show and more of a misguided, unsatisfying and near-unendurable hodge-podge of familiar ideas and gags. This not only applies to the show, but in teen comedies in general, and they are stretched thin over the feature length.

The four teenage misfits – Will (Simon Bird), Jay (James Buckley), Neil (Blake Harrison) and Simon (Joe Thomas) – have finished their A-levels are about to leave Rudge Park Comprehensive. Within their final week of school, a series of events – including Simon being dumped by his girlfriend Carili, the death of Jay’s grandfather and Will’s father’s marriage to his younger mistress - prompt them to consider a holiday. To escape it all, and to make the most of what could potentially be the last time they all hang out together (Will and Simon heading off to University), they select Malia in Crete, as their destination.

As Jay puts it, copious amounts of sex, booze and sun ensue, but they are also required to survive awful accommodation, mass humiliation, bitter disappointment, confusing relationships and stretched friendships too. Jay's impenetrable mass-cravings for sex, his disillusionment that every girl he meets fancies him, and his raw naivety about his pick-up abilities soon grows tiresome. It's way too extreme to be taken seriously, and he is easily the most unlikeable of the foursome. Simon continues to mope about Carli, talking endlessly about her to Lucy, one of the attractive girls they meet on the first night in a bar. Though she clearly likes him, he bores her to death obsessing over Carli. His story is more painful than funny, and it's all resolved in a predictable and unforgivably ridiculous way. Neil is convinced he's not cheating on his girlfriend if he isn't kissing, leading to several weird (and disgusting) encounters with older women. It is only Will's civil conversations with Alison, an attractive out-of-his-league blonde that provide consistent laughter and show signs of cleverness. If Simon Bird didn't exist in this film, it would have been unbearable.

It's all very predictable, silly and highly sexist. The way Jay talks about women, and how a lot of the girls are portrayed in the film, is pretty outrageous. How those dance moves manage to mildly impress the girls in the bar - who look on in bored bewilderment - and prompt them to curiously stick around for the rest of the film, is beyond me. So many of the jokes are inevitable, for example the poop joke, as soon as the hotel owner issued his one and only warning. The rest of the gags consist of the guys being dacked, forced to strip, dry humping in public or vomiting. It is only intermittently funny, and for me, it just wasn't enough.

The Inbetweeners Movie is pretty awful. It's vile and irritable. There are enough laughs to comfortably fill a 25-minute episode of the show (and there were some big laughs, I'll admit) but spread over 97 minutes the film very quickly wears out it's welcome. Full of lazy writing and convenient plot resolutions, this is a film I did not enjoy. It's not just a poor film, but a failed comedy venture that I am going to assume has satisfied more fans than it probably should have. Unless you are a die-hard fan of the show, this is not recommended.

My Rating: ★ 1/2 (D+)


  1. Completely disagree. For fans of the show, this film was an excellent way to round off the television series, but I also know people that discovered the television series because of the film. I was a fan of the television show, but went to see the film with people that had never seen an episode before. They found it equally as funny as I did and gave it some glowing feedback. The women in the film aren't portrayed in a bad light at all! You have to remember that the film is presented from the point of view of four young men who happen to be going on a "lads" holiday, which happens to be a recognised rite of passage here in the UK.

    Your review seemed like you didn't really understand the film's purpose. Sexism is not an issue in the film and some further background viewing into the television series would have revealed the comic nature of the characters. What I don't understand is that even the people I know who hadn't ever watched an episode of the television series could manage to understand the character profile of Jay and got laughs out of the character.

    Overall I think you have over analysed a film that is there to provide, as you put it, "big laughs". I loved the way it was focused on the comedy edge, (which is what the television series was praised for) but there was still an underlying narrative to the story that held tight throughout the viewing and helped the viewer go through a more emotional and enjoyable journey with the characters.

    I suggest you remove yourself from the internet for writing this review!

    Love from Dave xxx

  2. Wow. Thanks for the feedback Dave.

    I'm sorry that we disagree on a lot of things about this film, but I'm glad you and your friends enjoyed it. I do think it is a film that will be applauded by fans, but not one I feel comfortable recommending to a new audience.

    I guess I'm in the minority on that - because I found the feature length to be a disservice. I think the film starts to become repetitive, the penis, shit and vomit jokes cease to be funny, and I guess I would have liked to have been able to relate to these guys. The way that events played out was so removed from reality, that I lost interest. I may have overanalysed it, sure, but this was a journey I did not particularly enjoy (I found it to be very generic and predictable) and people like Jay just rub me the wrong way.

    My experience with the show is about five random episodes, selected as the 'best' ones by a friend of mine, a big fan. I really enjoyed them. Hence, when the film was released, I was eager to check it out. I was disappointed, obviously. I respect your opinion, but I am not the only one with a response like this - and I'm not going to consider reevaluating what I enjoy doing - writing about film - because of one disagreement.

    Kind regards,

    Andy Buckle