A television show making the leap to a feature-length film is always a challenging proposition, and it doesn’t always work. But fortunately, in the case of The Inbetweeners Movie, the translation from small screen to the big screen is for the most part a smooth one. Puppeteered by veterans of the original series, The Inbetweeners Movie has all the witty laughs and vulgar humour that made the show such a hit in the first place, on top of unforced depth to ensure that it doesn’t just feel like a few 25-minute episodes stitched together. Maturity in a vulgar comedy is a feat to be celebrated in itself, but it’s even better that it was achieved for the movie adaptation of a beloved TV series. Best of all, while familiarity with the original show is preferred for the movie since you’ll have a better sense of what’s at stake, it’s likely that Inbetweeners virgins will come away equally satisfied with this wholly enjoyable romp beset with heart and laughs.
With their school years finally coming to a close, Will (Bird), Simon (Thomas), Jay (Buckley) and Neil (Harrison) will soon be forced to brave the realms of University and work. However, Simon’s girlfriend and long-time crush Carli (Head) breaks up with Simon due to the uncertainty of their impending University years, leaving the lad devastated. To help Simon get over his depression, the boys decide that a holiday is in order, and jet off to Malia in Crete seeking a fortnight of relaxation, booze, girls and (hopefully) sex. Not long after their arrival, the troupe encounter a group of females with whom they strike up a tentative bond. Unfortunately, though, Carli is also in Malia, and Simon is still besotted with his ex.
We’ve seen tonnes of coming of ages tale before, but it’s not often that we see a such a story concerning patiently-developed characters we’ve come to know and love over several years. While the nature of the film’s narrative is generic, the filmmakers at least handled it with sincerity, and it’s rewarding to see this foursome at long last growing up after three seasons of pure immaturity. Thus, the arcs (although predictable) feel more earned and emotionally satisfying. Additionally, writers Iain Morris and Damon Beesley had the good sense to not treat the story’s female characters as mere eye candy or perfunctory plot pawns; instead, they have depth and feelings, adding mirth and emotional intrigue.
The Inbetweeners TV show continues to be so popular because it displays an astute understanding of the teenage mindset. These qualities, thankfully, are carried over to this feature film, with razor-sharp dialogue and hilarious observations about teen behaviour. Additionally, sending the protagonists to Greece via a cheap holiday package gave the writers new targets for their humour (including flight delays, grungy accommodation, sleazy holidays representatives, nightclub entrance scams, etc) while also allowing the boys do what they do best: drinking alcohol, stripping naked, vomiting, farting, saying the wrong things, and trying their hardest to get girls (but failing hilariously). Nevertheless, The Inbetweeners Movie falls short of perfection. There are copious moments of greatness, but the film does drag at times. The plot feels somewhat bloated (maybe it would’ve worked better as an hour-long TV special?), which diminishes some of the franchise’s trademark punch.
Expectedly, all of the actors involved here seem completely at ease with their characters. Leading the pack is Simon Bird, who perfectly sells the social awkwardness shtick in the role of Will. As was the case with the show, the story is narrated by Bird, and his spot-on delivery coupled with the witty writing makes for several moments of inspired hilarity. On top of this, Bird also shines in the more tender moments (for instance a scene when he nervously watches his local dalliance undress on a beach). The rest of the boys are equally good, genuinely inhabiting their roles and effortlessly alternating between the dramatic and the hilarious. These performers are surprisingly versatile, and their efforts here should serve as a springboard for bigger and better things post-Inbetweeners. Meanwhile, the female ensemble – consisting of Laura Haddock, Emily Head, Tamla Kari, Jessica Knappet and Lydia Rose Bewley – keep up with the boys every step of the way, placing forth strong performances with ideal comic timing. Also of note in the cast is Greg Davies as series regular Mr. Gilbert, who threatens to steal the entire movie with an opening rant that had this humble reviewer in tears of laughter. It’s a bit of a shame, then, that Davies disappears from the film immediately following his uproarious tirade…
The thing about The Inbetweeners as a franchise is that the creators wanted to wrap it up while it was still brilliant instead of milking it to exhaustion and risk sacrificing the show’s overall integrity. Now that the boys have finished school and seem poised for a bright future, the franchise and these characters can now be safely put to bed. Thus, the conclusion to The Inbetweeners Movie feels weighty and poignant, as the foursome are about to head to University and will most likely start to grow apart. Sure, the ending is a bit sappy, but it feels earned; these boys have been through so many humiliations and failures, so they deserve an optimistic ending.