I think that the British (original) version of The Inbetweeners is a terribly funny television show. It is raunchy and it is foul and it is awkward. It is everything a comedy about some unfortunate high school boys should be. What does such a show do though when the kids are no longer in high school? Naturally, they make a movie. As much as I love the television show, The Inbetweeners Movie isn’t everything it should be.
The Inbetweeners Movie, directed by Ben Palmer and written by Iain Morris and Damon Beesley (Morris and Beesley were the men behind the series with Palmer directing a number of episodes), simply feels like a long episode of the series and not particularly movie worthy. While there’s nothing immensely wrong with that, it’s not a particularly great long episode, and that is an issue.
The film stars, just as the series did, Simon Bird, James Buckley, Blake Harrison, and Joe Thomas with a number of the show’s other stars also putting in appearances. In short, they put the band back together for the movie. Maybe that’s the problem, maybe no one was there to tell everyone that they had to come up with something really good and potentially different and so they opted to deliver the same old-same old again.
Starting at the beginning, if you’re not a fan of the television series from whence this movie sprang, don’t bother with the film itself. While you will understand the simplistic plot, you’re not going to get much of a flavor here for who these characters are, the movie assumes a lot of foreknowledge.
Most plainly, this issue exists with Simon (Cooper) and his insane love for Carli (Emily Head). Much of the film in fact revolves around Simon pining for Carli and while it is easy enough for anyone to understand boys obsessing about girls, it really is only interesting to watch Simon obsess over Carli if one knows about Simon’s previously obsessing over Carli. Additionally, the whole movie only takes place because of Simon’s obsessing over Carli; it is why these four recent high school grads go to Malia (it’s on Crete) in the first place.
The plot here, as stated, is simple to understand (it’s the kind of thing you might see on a none-too-deep sitcom for example) – four awkward kids who are obsessed with sex graduate high school and go away to a tropical paradise for a week. The young lads (they’re British, so they’re lads) quickly realize that they are just as awkward and bad with girls in a foreign land (particularly one populated with British people doing the exact same thing they’re doing) as they are at home. But, that doesn’t stop their alcohol-fueled shenanigans.
Really, if you’ve watched the television show you can imagine exactly what happens in the movie. If you watched the television show, you know about Jay and his empty boasts, Will and his fancy speeches, Simon and his obsession with Carli, and Neil just being plain odd (but sometimes, somehow, the smartest of the group). You know that they’re going to meet up with girls and that Will is going to stumble horribly but manage to work it out in the end. Honestly, you could probably figure it all out even if you haven’t watched the series, but it will mean more if you have.
Now, if you have watched the series and enjoyed it, you’ll probably enjoy the movie as well. You won’t find it exceptionally brilliant (because it isn’t), and you’ll want more when it’s done (because assuredly after watching all The Inbetweeners has given us there still has to be another story to tell), but you won’t find your time wasted.
The Inbetweeners Movie is like visiting an old friend, one you haven’t talked to in a long time, and trying to just relive all the good memories rather than making new ones. It is comforting, and joyful, and maybe vaguely disappointing as well. There ought to be more there, but there just isn’t.
The bonus features with the DVD include a commentary track with Bird, Buckley, Harrison, and Thomas; a making of for the film and another on the behind the scenes work that went into a high dive; bloopers; and deleted scenes. The piece on the high dive, “Joe Thomas: Dangerman,” is—perhaps oddly—relatively interesting even if it seems like a bit of an odd choice for a separate featurette when nothing else is singled out for one.
I feel as though, perhaps, I’ve undersold how fun the movie is, and it is fun… but again, mostly for fans of the series. It is going to be a disappointment for those expecting the movie to deliver a whole lot of foul language and incredibly gratuitous shots of nudity (and having watched the show many will think that both of those things will exist here). However, it is enjoyable and easy-going enough to give it a go on a quiet night. But, you might just be better off (re)watching the television series.