UK Release Date: 21st August 2015
Runtime: 91 minutes
Director: Elliot Hegarty
Writer: Jack Whitehall, Freddy Syborn
Starring: Jack Whitehall, Sarah Solemani, Ethan Lawrence, Joanna Scanlan, Charlie Wrenham, Mathew Horne, Harry Enfield, Jeremy Irvine, Iain Glen
Synopsis: The worst teacher ever takes his terrible class on an incredibly ill-fated school trip to Cornwall.
Jack Whitehall has, out of nowhere, become one of the biggest and most bankable stars in British comedy. Largely by roasting his own middle class roots, Whitehall has been massively successful both as a stand-up and on television with his BBC3 sitcom Bad Education. As is now inevitable after the success of The Inbetweeners Movie and its sequel, that show has made its way to the big screen with cinema spin-off The Bad Education Movie.
Alfie Wickers (Whitehall) wants to do something special for his class before they finish school. His plans for a trip abroad are scuppered by busybody Susan (Joanna Scanlan), mother of student Joe (Ethan Lawrence). However, Alfie manages to petition head teacher Fraser (Mathew Horne) to let him take the kids to Cornwall, where they cross paths with Alfie’s posh schoolmate (Jeremy Irvine) and ruthless terrorist Pasco (Iain Glen).
Like many of the recent British TV comedy adaptations that have reached cinemas, The Bad Education Movie makes only the minor format change of taking its central cast out of their usual location. Whitehall’s script, penned with writing partner Freddy Syborn, moves the gang to a version of Cornwall taken straight from The Wicker Man, with a side order of domestic terrorism. It’s a ludicrously heightened scenario, which allows the film to have a lot of fun and indulge in all manner of ridiculousness.
| “I’m going to take them on a holiday so mental that, if it were a movie, everyone would be played by Nicolas Cage.”
At the centre of it all is Whitehall, more willing than a lot of comedy writers to make himself look like a complete and total buffoon. Whether he’s dangling naked from a zip line or having his gonads chomped by a swan, Whitehall is up for just about anything. This is crude slapstick at its best and it’s in these segments that The Bad Education Movie manages to hit hard with its laughs – laughs that don’t always arise elsewhere.
The entire film has a problem with tone. It’s perfectly comfortable when it’s laughing at its own protagonist, but trouble soon arises when an explosion of violence shatters the otherwise amiable tone of comedy. As Game of Thrones star Iain Glen receives a beefed up role as the leader of a terrorist group in search of Cornish independence, The Bad Education Movie dances with a kind of darkness that the film isn’t clever enough to get away with.
This ludicrous bit of plotting is a symptom of the problems with transferring low-key television to the big screen. Aside from being in terribly bad taste, the whole thing has the unpleasant odour of a lack of ideas. Instead of jokes, we get a third act of sword fights and the constant threat of murder. Not exactly the stuff of comedy gold. Thankfully, the preceding hour or so is a genuinely joyous comedy, which gives every one of the TV show’s best characters the chance to shine. Special praise must go to Joanna Scanlan, who is gloriously evil as an uptight hag of a small-c conservative mother.
| “This is gonna get fifty shades… of cray.”
The Bad Education Movie is thoroughly rough around the edges, but it deserves credit for its sheer commitment to maintaining the same anarchic silliness of the TV show, which never needed much of a plot. For every attempt to make the movie feel big and cinematic, there’s a charmingly parochial cultural reference to bring the whole thing back down to Earth.
Pop or Poop?
Jack Whitehall finally makes his big screen bow with The Bad Education Movie, bringing his rather naff middle class teacher to the big screen with the usual parade of crude hilarity.
It loses its footing a little when it tries to turn itself into a defiantly British action movie, but when it turns on the anarchic comedy, it’s a lot of fun.
With Hollywood churning out blockbuster after blockbuster, sometimes it’s nice to watch a deeply silly Britcom in which a swan swallows a scrotum.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.