Film Review – The Inbetweeners Movie
For a long time I’ve been resistant to British comedy. I enjoyed Mr. Bean and Fawlty Towers as a kid, but as time has gone on, my enthusiasm for them has waned. I’ve never gotten into recent shows like The Office, and the best theory I’ve been able to come up with for this is that they feel too campy to me. It wasn’t until this summer that I finally caught the bug. It started with The IT Crowd and reached full steam with The Inbetweeners. Unfortunately, both series were already done by the time I came to them, but this Friday marks the U.S. release of The Inbetweeners Movie, the cinematic conclusion to the series.
The movie picks up after the end of the TV series, with teenagers Will (Simon Bird), Simon (Joe Thomas), Neil (Brett Harrison), and Jay (James Buckley), who are about to go on holiday together to celebrate their graduation from primary school. They decide to go to Malia, a Greek destination for debauchery, but, as always, their goals don’t work out as planned.
For fans of the series, the film carries over a lot of elements from the show. All the main characters are back, writers/producers Iain Morris and Damon Beesley are responsible for this script, and recurring director Ben Palmer once again takes the helm. That being said, the film has a very different feel from the series. While the series packed a lot of action and jokes into each 22-minute episode, the plot arc of the movie is given more time to build to a bubble. There are certainly very funny moments in the film, too, but they are fewer and further between. For those unfamiliar with the series, the film does a good job of being self-contained, and in a lot of ways feels similar to American Pie. While you will understand the overall story even if you haven’t seen the TV series, there are a lot of Easter eggs and nods to the series that make it that much more engaging.
The film is not for the faint of heart, and, much like the series, it is full of bad language with moments of sexuality. It does a good job of riding a fine line with each of the characters and their own neuroses to keep them likable and endearing, from Will’s inability to go with the flow to Simon’s inability to get over his recent break-up. If it wasn’t for the skilled hand of the writers, these characters could easily be maddening, but the film does a good job of continuing the charm that made the series so addictive.
Stylistically, this is a big departure from the series. The film uses a lot of musical montages and large sweeping camera shots, includes many large crowds, and has bigger stunts. It definitely feels like they amped up the action for the movie. The only issue is that I don’t necessarily feel like “more” always equates to “better.” I enjoyed the rapid-fire pace of the original show, and the slower pace here sometimes makes it feel a bit like they are killing time.
Music plays a huge part here, and I liked a lot of the soundtrack, but it did get a bit distracting at times. The film has a few too many musical montages for its own good. I’ve already downloaded a couple of songs from the movie so I guess I can’t really complain too much, but it felt like a bit of a way to fill time.
For fans of the series, the member of the core team all appear, but, beyond that, the film is light on the supporting characters from the series. A few from the original series pop up in small roles, most notably Simon’s dream girl Carli (Emily Head) and principal Mr. Gilbert (Greg Davies), but there are also storylines like Will’s relationship with Charlotte Hinchcliffe (Emily Atack) and the ongoing conflict with bully Mark Donovan (Henry Lloyd-Hughes) which remain largely unresolved.
The biggest problem for me was that the movie feels a like a Hollywood-ized version of the show. It wraps the series up much more conclusively than the show ever did. The fan in me enjoys seeing closure for these characters, but at the same time, it doesn’t necessarily feel in line with the series, which got part of its charm from its unpredictability and failing to go where you’d expect.
As much as I had hoped the film would live up to the TV series, it doesn’t quite reach the high standard set for it. There are a lot of funny moments, but it fails to sustain the momentum that made the show so engaging. Even still, it is a satisfying conclusion to the series for fans of the characters and continues to swing big like the show. If you haven’t seen the show beforehand, I would recommend going back and checking it out first; you’ll get a lot more out of the movie that way. Either way, it is fun and worth checking out.
Final Grade: B
TV Series Final Grade: A
Also, be sure to check out our interview with actor Simon Bird, our interview with actor Blake Harrison, and our interview with Joe Thomas and James Buckley.