Inbetweeners-1Cast your minds back to the summer of 2011. Some of you (like myself) had just turned 18 and were making the most of your summer before heading off to new ventures, be it gap years, working life, or University. At the tail end of this summer came a film, based off of a TV show which had come to accompany us through our years of Sixth Form/College. The show was of course The Inbetweeners, and their first cinematic outing was a huge success, earning nearly £60 million in the United Kingdom alone. And it did hit the right notes, I myself wrote it a highly favourable review back upon release. If you were to re-read that review, you’ll come across some sentiments of mine stating how I felt that The Inbetweeners should have met its end following the first movie. But the sound of cash registers ringing has the power to do all, so here we are with a sequel in which we have the chance to catch up with our favourite socially awkward teens. Unfortunately, this reunion of sorts is a bit of a mixed bag.

It has nearly been a year since the events of  the first film, and the boys have come to embark on different endeavors. Will (Simon Bird) and Simon (Joe Thomas) are both struggling to adapt to University life, Neil (Blake Harrison) has been working in a bank, while Jay (James Buckley) has moved out to Australia, supposedly becoming a ladies man and an in-demand DJ in the process. Missing his friend, Neil suggests that him, Simon and Will go pay Jay a surprise visit in Australia during the Easter break. Upon arrival, it’s not long until they discover that much of the details of Jay’s messages back home have not been entirely truthful. None the less, the four decide to make the most of their time down under, with Will desperately trying to encourage a back-packing holiday so he can attempt to win the affections of pre-school sweetheart Katie (Emily Berrington). What ensues is a chaotic series of events that sees nearly every bodily fluid under the sun excreted in some form of another.Inbetweeners-2

Initially the first qualm I have with this reunion is how lazy the set-up is. Courtesy of series creators Iain Morris and Damon Beesley (who are now on directing duty as well), this story chooses not to catch-up with the characters three years on from the events of the first film, therefore out of pace with the age-group of that past target audience. As a result they seem to have limited themselves dramatically, and I personally feel it would have been more interesting to see these characters as 21 year-olds fretting about the prospects of having to officially become adults, and actually maturing as human beings. Instead, Beesley and Morris have resorted to a scenario which keeps their characters exactly the same as the last time we saw them, which while welcomingly familiar seems stale and limited. Plus, quite why nearly every film based on a sitcom feels they have to take off to an exotic location in order to be interesting boggles me (Alpha Papa did perfectly fine in Norwich).

While the set-up does feel like the least the writer’s could have done to bring these characters together, it must be stressed that it does feel quite warming to see these characters together again, and that their camaraderie still feels as fresh and genuine as they did back when the show first started in 2008 (God, that makes me feel old). Bird, Buckley, Harrison, and Thomas have a very easy chemistry which allows for the scenes between the four to have an easy-going attitude and comforting sense of nostalgia. All of the characters retain the same qualities that made them both endearing and repellent at the same time, leading to moments of utter hilarity. But unfortunately, at times, it as at the expense of the female characters that they are involved with. Publicity stills photography on the set of The Inbetweeners 2 movie 'The Long Goodbye'

Some of you may laugh at the fact that I am going to criticize an Inbetweeners movie on the basis of sexism and misogyny, but bare with me for a moment. I, personally, always found that the female characters in The Inbetweeners were very carefully written. Throughout the series, the girls that the boys encountered (for the most part) were always placed above them, on all ethical, moral, and intellectual levels. Here, the same courtesy is not granted. The main object of affection, Katie, simply acts in ways that appear un-genuine and unfavourable, all the while being objectified and treated in such a way which seems out of place for a film in 2014. But what is more distasteful is the treatment of Simon’s girlfriend Lucy (Tamla Kari). A character who was once a sweet and endearing presence in the first movie has been twisted into an uncomfortably offensive ‘psycho-girlfriend’ cliche. I understand that the writer’s may have been wanting to comment on the sense of disillusionment that can occur when one attempts to continue a relationship with someone they met on holiday, but that is no excuse to twist a character in to something she never was to begin with.

Thankfully, what stops this film from becoming a disappointing reunion with beloved characters is its numerous and frequent moments of hysterical hilarity. What Beesley and Morris have always been very good at is establishing moments of comedy within recognisable situations, and stretching them out to places you could never predict, with very sharp observations concerning certain types of people we may have encountered in our own lives. They have not lost any of their finesse here,  making this movie more hilarious than the first, if not quite as genuine. I won’t spoil anything as part, if not all, of the enjoyment comes from the surprise of where exactly the film will stretch to for humour. I will say one thing, you’ll never ride a water slide the same way again.Inbetweeners-4

The Inbetweeners 2 has proven to be as big a success as the first, if not more. I can understand its box-office success, as there is a lot of affection for these characters, which clearly hasn’t waned over the course of these three years. Its rather warm critical reception is more puzzling in this current climate of film criticism where misogyny and sexism is not so casually shrugged off. None the less, it does stand as the funniest film of the year so far, but if we were ever to re-visit these characters again, would it be too much to ask to have them grow up a little bit? Part of the brilliance of the series was how recognisable these characters were, and how much they seemed to be experiencing similar life lessons to those of their viewership. It may be my own fondness for those days that has left me feeling somewhat underwhelmed by this under-developed return, but I’d wager a bet that I am not alone in this opinion. However, let your mind be at ease and there is a crazy amount of laughs to have here, which is ultimately what the boys are the best at doing, and perhaps all that they are ever meant to do.

3/5- Ferociously funny, and at times welcomingly familiar. However, lazy and borderline offensive characterisation will make you yearn for the Sixth Form days. 

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