Sitcom The Inbetweeners, something of a Sex in the City with horny suburban teen boys instead of fashionable Manhattanites, came to an end in 2010 after three hilarious seasons in the U.K. Don't despair, however, since the show's popularity prompted Will, Simon, Jay and Neil to return in their very own feature film (just like the Sex in the City gals!). The Inbetweeners Movie follows our favorite geeky quartet as they go on a hedonistic Greek holiday. It might be bigger, shinier and more expensive, but can it do that and still retain the simple charm of the series?
The opening of The Inbetweeners Movie finds its lead characters - persnickety Will (Simon Bird), lovelorn Simon (Joe Thomas), horndog Jay (James Buckley), and dopey Neil (Blake Harrison) - completing their schooling at Rudge Park Comprehensive and preparing to enter The Real World. For their last summer together, the guys book a trip to the seaside resort town of Malia, Crete for drinking, sex, partying, sex and bagging "fit" chicks. Upon arrival, however, the guys find that their hotel is a dump and the bar they picked to hang at in this town full of action was a deserted dive (Jay had the hots for the girl selling tickets outside, y'see). They make the best of the situation, though, and eventually muster up the courage to chat up a quartet of friendly college girls who stepped into the same venue. Each guy is paired up with a girl - Will with Alison (Laura Haddock), who already has a Greek boyfriend; Simon with sweet Lucy (Tamla Kari), who bores her by obsessing over his childhood crush/ex-girlfriend Carli; Neil with the tall and gawky Lisa (Jessica Knappett); and Jay with bubbly, chubby Jane (Lydia Rose Bewley).
Since it's directed and scripted by the same people responsible for the TV series, The Inbetweeners Movie enjoys a nice continuity with its small screen counterpoint - the guys' tight chemistry is right-on, and there are several laugh-out-loud gags. The film follows the same basic formula as the series, too, with the square, affable Will narrating his and the other guys' outrageous exploits (including scenes he had nothing to do with, another Sex in the City-esque element). The plot, however, is strictly a "college guys gone wild" affair with several scenes that overextend themselves. It's the classic case of the situation that fits nicely in a two-part TV show arc getting bloated into feature film-length.
Besides the starring quartet, most of the other Inbetweeners cast members are present here as well (in the first half-hour, anyhow) - since most of the film takes place in Malia, however, it made me realize how essential the school/home setting was to the show's success. That's never more apparent than in the film's funniest scene (and the one most resembling the TV show), the blistering, un-sentimental speech given by the school headmaster Mr. Gilbert (Greg Davies) to his school's graduating class. The guys' parents get a few decent scenes as well (not enough, though), and there's even a bit with Will's previously unseen father, played here by Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Anthony Head. Not helping matters is the fact that much of the plot is given over to Simon pining over Carli (Emily Head), who is also summering in same resort town with the guys. Simon's puppy doggish crushing over Carli was an endearing part of the series' myriad of stories, but it doesn't hold enough weight to be a major plot point like it is here.
Taken as a generic male-bonding comedy (which is apparently how Lions Gate marketed it to the U.S. audience), The Inbetweeners Movie is an adequate enough watch. Fans of the television show should beware, however. All the elements are there, and yet it's a vaguely unsatisfying flick.
The 16x9 anamorphic widescreen picture on this digitally shot feature is nicely preserved on disc with bright colors and a pleasing balance in the film's nighttime scenes. There are a few scenes where the filmmakers seemed to overcorrect for cloudy weather by tinting the picture a yellowish tone, otherwise it's a straightforward presentation along the lines of most current mainstream films.
The Inbetweeners Movie sports a single English 5.1 Dolby soundtrack that is well prepared with clear dialogue and nice, loud (but not overpowering) pop songs. Optional English and Spanish subtitles are provided as well.
- As with the Inbetweeners series DVDs, an Audio Commentary with actors Simon Bird, James Buckley, Blake Harrison and Joe Thomas is provided on the film. Although it's not particularly informative (the best tidbit comes when Buckley reveals that a penis double was used for his nude scene), the four have a chatty good time on the track, making it obvious that they get along as well offscreen as on.
- In the rambling but intriguing 63-minute featurette The Making of The Inbetweeners Movie, the cast and crew recount the challenges of filming a Greek-set vacation comedy in Spain during late Winter (which sometimes shows in the film's inconsistently lighted outdoor scenes). There's also an interesting bit on the title credits scene, which uses CGI and steadicam to zoom from the sky to Jay's bedroom.
- A few Deleted Scenes (13:31), not necessary but still funny, fill out the disc. It includes 24 takes of Simon leaving his home.
- Bloopers (13:56).
- Featurette Joe Thomas, Dangerman (14:28) details the intense training Thomas went through for a diving scene that lasts a few seconds in the final film, along with a few other physically demanding (yeah, right) scenes for the actor.
- The film's theatrical trailer and a handful of trailers for other raunchy comedies from Lions Gate round out the extras.
The Inbetweeners Movie takes the cast of one of the U.K.'s funnier sitcoms on holiday, resulting in enjoyable if generic raunchy college comedy. For better or worse, this plays out like an overextended, lesser episode of the original series, a la The Facts of Life Down Under (except the Facts girls probably never encountered a self-fellating stripper). Rent It.
Matt Hinrichs is a designer, artist, film critic and dilettante-of-all-trades in Phoenix, Arizona. 4 Color Cowboy is his repository of Western-kitsch imagery, while other films he's seen are logged at Letterboxd. He also welcomes friends on Twitter @4colorcowboy.