When The Inbetweeners started a few years ago in the UK as a small comedy TV series on E4, there was no great media circus or PR frenzy to support it. By all intents and purposes it should have been a flop. The writers, Iain Morris and Damon Beesley, were a couple of middle-aged Channel 4 executives best known for lending their names to two gay characters from the sitcom Extras. Yet, through word of mouth and a loyal fan base The Inbetweeners became a hit spawning 3 series and this first movie.
Will, Simon, Jay and Neil are back for one last hurrah before the rigours of real life tear their flimsy friendships apart. In keeping with many teens from the UK, they are embarking on the final rite of passage – the lads holiday.
We catch up with the boys in their different lives. Will (Simon Bird) has been left out of his father’s wedding, Neil (Blake Harrison) is snogging girls behind a deli counter, love-sick Simon (Joe Thomas) is dumped by Carli (Emily Head) and Jay (James Buckley) has a mishap. So far, so normal and after an awkward meeting of parents, they are soon arriving in Malia for their first great adventure. Cue a stereotypical holiday fare – dodgy hotels, rubbish nightclubs, too much booze and neon hangovers.
The beauty of The Inbetweeners has always been its familiarity. Yes, the characters are extremely annoying in many different ways – arrogant, sexist, lovesick and outright dumb – but they’re so recognisable and real that despite their misgivings, they’re also likeable. The audience can transpose these traits onto their own friends (and occasionally themselves). In short, despite being a comedy, The Inbetweeners succeeds keeping its finger on the pulse of the teenage experience in a somewhat similar way to the American Pie franchise did in the late 90’s – early 00’s..
So how does a small British sitcom translate to the big screen? The answer is very well. There’s something about British comedy just not transferring to the big screen. With a lot of reputation riding on the successful transition without ruining what has been built up on the small screen before it there’s always a danger it could go horribly wrong. Thankfully it’s worked here.
The plot soon ramps up levels of embarrassment. There’s a sense that not only are the lads making the most of their holiday but the writers are going out all guns blazing. Soon the four likely-lads meet four likely-lasses and it becomes an obvious holiday romance comedy. Embarrassing dance moves ensue, Will’s indignant moral compass comes into full swing in a mix-up with deckchairs and a bromance is on the rocks. Of course there are some sections which fall flat though.
Its nothing the industry has never seen before. In fact it’s been done over-and-over again with movies like American Pie or Kevin and Perry Go Large. But coming-of-age movies are popular and resonate with the audience they target. Yes it is crude, offensive and vulgar but if you haven’t seen the series – you shouldn’t see the movie.