UK Release Date: 6th August 2014
Runtime: 96 minutes
Director: Iain Morris, Damon Beesley
Writer: Iain Morris, Damon Beesley
Starring: Simon Bird, James Buckley, Joe Thomas, Blake Harrison, Emily Berrington, Tamla Kari
Synopsis: The boys join Jay in Australia, where they run into a group of pretentious backpackers and continue to struggle with the opposite sex.
The surprising success of The Inbetweeners Movie was a double-edged sword for fans of British comedy. Whilst it provided a fittingly hilarious send-off for the E4 sitcom, it also gave a green light to hideous TV adaptations like Keith Lemon: The Film and Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie.
Despite the first movie being a logical finale, the lure of another £40m domestic gross has proved strong enough to turn co-creators Iain Morris and Damon Beesley into what their character Jay would almost certainly call “sequel wankers”. Thankfully, The Inbetweeners 2 is every bit as crude, warm and hilarious as the first one.
Will (Simon Bird) is having a miserable, lonely time at Bristol University, despite what he tells friends Simon (Joe Thomas) and Neil (Blake Harrison). So, when Jay (James Buckley) tells the gang about the brilliant time he is having in Australia, Will and the others jump at the chance to go and visit. When they get there, Jay’s life is typically free of glamour, leading the gang into the backpacking community at a nearby hostel and Katie (Emily Berrington) – an old friend of Will’s.
| "You know why they call it ‘Down Under’? Because that’s where your face spends most of the time."
The first hurdle that The Inbetweeners 2 had to leap was justifying its own existence. Within the first few scenes, the relationship bliss of all four central characters is shattered in believable fashion, leaving them free to continue their disastrous pursuit of women on the other side of the world. All of the necessary contrivances are packed into the early stages, leaving the rest of the narrative free to unfold in wonderfully breezy fashion.
Morris and Beesley – directing as well as scripting this time – bring the together the different elements of the Inbetweeners formula perfectly. Teenage banter, grotesque scatological humour, pop culture riffs, knob gags and brutal one-liners are all linked together in a movie that feels far more cinematic than the rather episodic first film.
The direction is basic, but impressive, choosing to focus on the characters rather than the scenery around them to great effect. This makes the scenes in which Morris and Beesley allow themselves stylistic flourishes all the more effective. An hilarious sequence involving a water slide and a stray log of excrement is especially aided by some wonderfully zany camerawork and a melodramatic score.
| "If anyone starts playing the bongos, I’m leaving."
Despite all of this, however, The Inbetweeners 2 never loses sight of the fact that it’s about the four guys at its centre. The central performances are perfect, whether it’s Blake Harrison’s scene-stealing one-liners or Simon Bird’s trademark acid-tongued ranting. Special praise must go to James Buckley, who continues to lend Jay a real bedrock of vulnerability behind his exoskeleton of bravado.
It’s real testament to the subtlety of Morris and Beesley’s writing and the cast’s performances that, despite the mean streak to some of its humour, The Inbetweeners 2 never feels nasty. Even when a few jokes hit a little too close to the bone, the charm of the characters pulls the film through to the next, more palatable, gag.
By the time the cast get a real Toy Story 3 moment in the third act, it becomes clear that these characters have really made a mark on their audience. They aren’t one-note sitcom caricatures, they’re people familiar to us all. And we love them.
Pop or Poop?
With a broader canvas and zeitgeisty attacks on “gap year” culture, The Inbetweeners 2 is a treasure trove of sight gags and brilliantly-observed character work. Iain Morris and Damon Beesley continue to develop their losers into rounded humans, with the help of a cast in the form of their lives.
It doesn’t always work, with some jokes a little too brutal, but when it’s on song, it flies. I wouldn’t rule out the gang getting another sequel in the near future.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.