Reviewed by Drew Ninnis.
Country: United Kingdom
Director: Damon Beesley, Iain Morris.
Screenplay: Damon Beesley, Iain Morris
Runtime: 96 minutes.
Cast: Simon Bird, James Buckley, Blake Harrison, Joe Thomas.
Plot: Friends and perpetual losers Will, Neil, and Simon reunite to journey to Australia and experience the party and pussy filled life Jay claims he is living there. Jay, of course, is lying and is more set on discovering what is ex-girlfriend is up to. The four boys attempt to make the most of their impromptu holiday, with Will forcing them to follow the young and vivacious Katie to Byron Bay. What ensues is, naturally, humiliation for our four heroes and hilarity for the rest, on a grand scatological scale.
Review: I love the Inbetweeners, and I couldn’t possibly explain why. The original television series was not exactly the finest show on air, but it did follow in the footsteps of some of my favourite childhood comedy influences – such as The Young Ones, Bottom, and later shows like Men Behaving Badly. It is a genre of British humour that has travelled less widely than your classic Monty Python strain or Faulty Towers, but it comes from the celebrated tradition of scatological and sex-obsessed undergraduate humour. To indulge in understatement for a minute, it is not for everyone. It is for me, in that it hits a very juvenile, lost part of my psyche with such force that I can’t help but laugh. The material of the Inbetweeners isn’t always the best – they traffic in the usual stuff you would expect from arrested development teen comedies – but the way it is written and delivered by the cast and crew for me always puts a smarter spin on things than your usual fart comedy. Here’s a line that will pretty much determine if The Inbetweeners 2 is for you:
Jay: You know the first rule of banter brigade… all the F’s.
Neil: Oh yeah – find them, fuck them, forget them.
Jay: No Neil, all the F’s. Find them, Frenchy them, get ‘em frothy, finger them, frig ‘em, film ‘em, flange ‘em, flick ‘em, fanny fart ‘em, fuck ‘em, frot ‘em, fist ‘em, felch ‘em, finish with them, then finally forget about them. Just like what I done with Jane or whatever her name was.
Simon: Sorry, I switched off after frig. You’re saying you aren’t bothered about Jane being here?
No, it isn’t for everyone. But part of the enjoyment for those who do embrace this sort of humour is the sheer excess with which Jay (James Buckley) delivers it, and the audience’s foreknowledge that the man is all talk with no walk. Thus the excessive, almost alienating talk, that is then perfectly punctured by level-headed audience surrogate Simon (Joe Thomas), who has problems of his own in the form of a crazy girlfriend back home.
As always, the Inbetweeners is an opportunity for the boys to visit a common cultural site (in this case, the gap year holiday – but previously school balls, caravanning, teen parties) and either roundly mock it or ruin it or both. The plot of The Inbetweeners 2 has them journeying first to a youth hostel in Byron Bay, and then to a local waterpark (where it is rumoured Jay’s ex-girlfriend, Jane, works and where Neil wants to swim with the dolphins – which ends about as well as you would expect). These are the two set-pieces around which the film is arranged – and both deliver. On arriving at the campsite meets hostel, Jay remarks ‘Oh no, why is there always some cunt with a guitar? … if the bongos start I’m burning the place down.’ On being asked by an over-enthusiastic and love-struck Will (Simon Bird, channelling Chris Barrie of The Brittas Empire, but also pretty much anything Chris Barrie has ever done) to embrace the backpacker’s lifestyle, Jay responds ‘we’re by a fire listening to some posh prick play guitar – how much more backpacking can it get?’
And Will isn’t entirely on board either, introducing that typical but enjoyable countdown which measures Will’s lust for intentionally clichéd free spirit Katie (Emily Berrington) against just how much of this hippy shit Will can take. Friendship bracelets come in for an early mocking – ‘[Will] How can anyone wear that many friendship bracelets? No one’s got that many friends. [Katie] – I know, right! Like I only wear, what, seven!’ – as does mystical songlines and a quasi-shamanistic ceremony in a yurt, with Will finally cracking and roundly criticising the no-rules positive thinking nonsense that nonetheless has just as strict and restricting a code of normative participation, in a victory for audiences everywhere:
Shaman: Now we have cleansed the area with sound we can begin. … Let’s help heal the world by throwing all of the world’s negativity onto the fire. Each think of a negativity and burn it. What’s you’re negativity?
Will: Look, maybe you should just tell me the right answer.
Shaman: There is no right answer.
Will: Clearly there is though.
Shaman: Let it all flow out, we will support you. There is no judgement here.
Will: So you keep saying. Well, in that case I’d like to throw the poor and disadvantaged onto the fire. And the handicapped. The homeless. And babies. Yes, spazzy little African babies. Riddled with malaria and AIDS. Oop, there they go, onto the fire, sizzle sizzle. How’s that?
Shaman: That is wrong.
Will: Yep, thought it might be.
To me, this is what the Inbetweeners does best and excuses the pleasing but less acceptable juvenile parts – puncturing admittedly easy targets, but with a degree of chaotic style. The high point of the film is a competitive and disastrous visit to the waterpark, which intentionally echoes the pool scene from Caddyshack, turned all the way up to 11.
The film drags up every Australian cliché you can possibly imagine, including a hilariously crass and forthright uncle, but ultimately it is done with enough wit to work. Nothing about this script, direction, or performances is lazy – even if it is simply an hour and a half of a T.V. show doing what it does best. Our heroes inevitably end up marooned in the outback, saved at the last minute by a quick convenience that wraps up all of the plot. But if you’ve come through the review with me this far then you won’t mind, and neither did I. As always, the allure and entertainment of the Inbetweeners comes from setting up another tired scenario and seeing how these man-children disrupt it, with typical wit. As Jay remarks, ‘Just ‘cause you promise people stuff doesn’t mean you have to do it. I once promised Comic Relief I’d raise three million quid for them by selling selfies of my cock. In the end, didn’t bother.’ It has no relevance to the review, it just made me laugh. That’s all The Inbetweeners 2 sets out do, and it delivers.
Rating: Three and a half stars.