Ah, The Inbetweeners. The misadventures of seventeen-year-old English schoolboy Will McKenzie (Simon Bird), catapulted out of private school luxury into the state system after his parents’ divorce, briefcase in hand, sticking out like a sore thumb. It’s been less than a year since Monsieur D. and I – late to the party – finally discovered the Channel Four teenage comedy show, devouring the first series on DVD on the train back from the Dinard British Film Festival. We laughed ourselves silly. It can’t have been easy for the people in our immediate vicinity in the carriage. Unfortunately on the basis of The Inbetweeners the film, it seems that we weren’t the only ones laughing ourselves into the world of stupid – how can all that comic promise have come to this?
I’m actually starting to wonder if the first series really was all that funny – the brilliantly awkward situations, the original take on the trials of sixth form life, the social satire – there was crudeness for sure, but it worked. Didn’t it? Perhaps I should go back and check. The film sees Will and his cohort of not-quite-but-nearly-total-loser mates Simon (Jo Thomas), Neil (Blake Harrison) and Jay (James Buckley) heading off to Greece for a post-A level sun-fest. Beyond that there really isn’t much by way of storyline or dramatic tension: you’re just waiting to see what next point-and-laugh social disaster will befall the group.
One striking aspect of the show which has carried on into the film is the way the lads’ various trials by humiliation have got ever worse over time. The show has long left the realm of the even vaguely plausible into the land of overblown idiocy – Jackass style, ever seeking to outdo itself. We get lot sof ‘turds and puking’ humour – which I have nothing against as an entrée for something more interesting, but not as a main course – with little else. Every character gets roundly humiliated so there’s due diligence on that front – clothes are stolen, kissing couples are vomited on, older ugly women are dry humped, fat women are described as beached whales (charming as it comes)… as for the fate of the clueless foursome, I barely cared.
It was hard to completely hate a film featuring characters I once remember having me in stitches, but it’s basically all gone to pot. I think it’s time to put The Inbetweeners to bed, but I wouldn’t put it past them to roll out a sequel given the film’s spectacular box office success. As for me, it was all too much like the bad booze cruise that served as its dramatic ‘climax’, it left me grumpy, hungover and like I’d wasted my time. Luckily I didn’t vomit all over anyone, though.