VOD film review: The Inbetweeners 2
Mark Harrison | On 05, Dec 2014Reading time: 4 mins
Directors: Damon Beesley, Iain Morris
Cast: Simon Bird, James Buckley, Blake Harrison, Joe Thomas
Watch The Inbetweeners 2 online in the UK: TalkTalk TV / iTunes / Rakuten TV / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Google Play
When The Inbetweeners Movie was unleashed upon an audience looking for a night out on A-Level results day in 2011, both cast and crew seemed adamant that the film would be a conclusion to the series. Then the film made over £40 million at the UK box office.
With British film companies scrambling to bring characters like Alan Partridge and Mrs. Brown to the big screen in their wake, a sequel seemed inevitable. To the credit of series creators Damon Beesley and Iain Morris (who also make their directing début here), The Inbetweeners 2 isn’t a cash-grab sequel, but rather a nice big blob of after-sun for the sting left by the slightly too neat ending of the first film.
Last time we saw them, Will (Simon Bird), Neil (Blake Harrison), Jay (James Buckley), and Simon (Joe Thomas) had girlfriends and seemed to have grown up a bit. Of course, six months later, things haven’t quite turned out as they hoped. They’re all single again, except for Simon, whose girlfriend, Lucy (Tamla Kari), has gone slightly do-lally.
But Will, Neil and Simon all have reasons to want to escape the UK, just like serial exaggerator Jay, who has moved to Australia and claims to be a top DJ. The gang is reunited when they go to visit him over the Easter holidays and wind up on a typically ridiculous adventure that stretches from Sydney to the Outback, as Jay pines for his own ex, Jane (Lydia Rose Bewley).
Sitcom characters are designed to snap back to their original state at the end of every episode and the Inbetweeners are no exception. They were all so happy at the end of The Inbetweeners Movie, but over three series on E4, there’s no indication that these fools could keep that going, having stumbled into such bliss. Having done the whole cinema she-bang once before, this feels like a victory lap, at once funnier and more self-assured than the previous film.
Like the first, it’s structured so that it would divide cleanly into three half-hour specials, if that were the format they had chosen, but Beesley and Morris jump at the chance to broaden the scope. From the very start, this is more of a film, from its opening bait-and-switch genre spoof to a perilous finale in the inherently cinematic environment of the Outback. It gives no quarter to newcomers, but in pitching to the fans allows it to excel in what it’s usually good at anyway.
The cast give as good as they get, with a sense that the four leads have grown in the roles, even while jogging in place. Bird, Harrison, Buckley and Thomas are rewarded with great gags by their writer-directors and alternately punished with some particularly nasty gross-out set-pieces. (One gut-busting gag at a water park might be the finest example of the form since Jackass stopped making movies.)
On the downside, this is (somehow) an altogether more laddish sequel than before. While the lead quartet are usually the least sensible characters on screen, there’s an unfortunate tendency towards basketcase female characters, whether it’s Kari’s bunny-boiling fiancee, chopping up Simon’s hoodies over Skype, or Will’s childhood friend Katie (Emily Berrington), who’s now a shallow trust-afarian traveller.
Of all the girls, Bewley comes out best with her brief cameo, given an assist by Buckley’s wobbly-lipped hysterics over having lost the love of his life. An impressive tracking shot early on shows how he’s supposedly over it, but the film’s main quest comes out of Jay being so distraught over breaking up with Jane that he decided to go and find her in Oz (“It’s only an island- how big could it be?”)
The Inbetweeners 2 is ambitiously unambitious, transplanting a more-of-the-same format into a teen comedy movie more successfully than its predecessor. It’s more dumb-headed and crass than any of the lads’ other adventures – they promise this really is the last one – but it’s still worthy of what has gone before and is pretty hilarious in all of its not-newness.