If you enjoyed the three brilliant seasons of “The Inbetweeners” on television then I guarantee that you will love this film. The first instalment, aptly named “The Inbetweeners Movie”, was quite successful and very good, but this sequel manages to top it. “The Inbetweeners 2” is everything that an Inbetweeners movie should be; it’s in your face, it’s loud, and it doesn’t pull punches.
The film achieves everything that it sets out to, and it captures the spirit of the television series much more effectively than its predecessor. The characters are thrown into situations that any normal person could easily deal with, but these aren’t normal people, they’re socially awkward teenagers and they are completely out of their depth. As both a group and as individuals the Inbetweeners manage to make a mess of every situation they get themselves into and cause a scene everywhere they go, whether it be a hostel, a water park, or even a completely empty desert.
“The Inbetweeners 2” centres around Will (Simon Bird), Neil (Blake Harrison) and Simon (Joe Thomas) as they visit Jay (James Buckley) in Australia in order to get a much needed change of scenery, as life after sixth form has left them with bitter tastes in their mouths. Jay claims that life has never been better for him, he’s a huge hit with the ladies as well as a successful DJ, on account of the fact that Australians just love the English. Of course, things aren’t quite as great as Jay would have the others believe, and the film really comes to life once the boys are all reunited. At this point sirens might be ringing in your head – ‘didn’t they go on a lad’s holiday in the first one?’ – but this isn’t just a holiday, it’s backpacking (or at least Will would like to think so).
The filmmakers do an excellent job with the premise. It would’ve been easy to make a film with tonnes of Australia-based jokes and puns, to have the foursome chasing kangaroos and taking in the sights, but that isn’t what this film is about at all. For a film that really denigrates the idea of going on a gap year, the Inbetweeners’ journey in this film does seem to have a similar purpose to having a year out. Effectively the group are trying to come to terms with who they are and who they want to be, and this film is a slightly more offensive version of a coming-of-age comedy. None of the boys have really learned all that much from their time away from secondary school, whereas over the course of their time in Australia they discover a lot about themselves.
The first scene is clever and immediately sets the tone for the film, it lets you know that while the scenery has changed and the character’s lives have moved forward, nothing is going to be that different. Will, Jay, Simon and Neil are no better off than they were before, they’re unlucky in love, idiotic, and stuck in their monotonous lives. It’s often said that what people want most from television is for everything to be back the way it was at the end of an episode, and that’s exactly where we are in this movie despite what happened in its predecessor. Will is single and hasn’t made any friends at university, Simon is as pathetic as ever, and although he’s still with Lucy (Tamla Kari), she’s a deranged PlayStation killer! Neil is a B.F.G with the lowest IQ in England, and Jay is a pathological liar even when he’s on the other side of the planet.
However, as the movie progresses you realise that the characters are deeper than their idiotic surface personas (except for Neil), perhaps more so in this film than ever before, and I think that’s what makes it such a complete Inbetweeners film. In this movie you get the feeling that the group are that little bit smarter and a bit more mature, even if their actions don’t always show it. Jay has real feelings and insecurities and Will is alone at university in a world he doesn’t understand, and it seems that they both know that nothing is actually going to get better, which is something that the Inbetweeners didn’t accept in the series. Simon finally has a relationship in which he’s not the one who is obsessive, but things just refuse to go right for him, and now he’s on the opposite side of the fence and realises that what he wanted so badly before isn’t actually as great as it seemed from the outside. At school the Inbetweeners didn’t really have a place, they didn’t belong to any group other than their own, but now they are part of the real world and they are completely lost.
There are so many brilliant scenes in the movie, but to mention any one of them in too much detail would really spoil the film. There is a section of the “The Inbetweeners 2” in which the group visit a water park, each with their own reason for going, and that entire sequence was absolutely hilarious. Each of the Inbetweeners get a great moment while they are at the park and what happens to Will is probably the best scene that “The Inbetweeners” has ever had to offer. It’s just fantastic and the acting is genius, it parodies much more serious subject matter and every person in the cinema was laughing.
The performances are all exactly what they need to be and as usual Simon Bird shines as the voice of the film, but the best performance (in my opinion) comes from Blake Harrison as Neil. It might not be too hard to play the fool but not often is it done in such an entertaining way. His fascination with dolphins and his ignorance towards Jay’s web of lies is just priceless, and he really does make you smile.
The new characters definitely add to the film, because they aren’t like the people we’ve already seen in the television series or the first movie. Ben (Freddie Stroma) and Katie (Emily Berrington) are travellers who act differently to those that the Inbetweeners already know, so for instance, when Katie kisses Will on the lips, in a relatively innocent way, he genuinely believes that he has a chance with her and that sets up some of the best moments in the movie. It would’ve been easy to have several cameos from people we already know like Carli (Emily Head) and Donovan (Henry Lloyd-Hughes), but that really wouldn’t have worked in this film, considering the fact that they shouldn’t be anywhere near Australia. Nonetheless, I would’ve liked to see Alison (Laura Haddock) return, at least in a flashback, because we never really find out what ended her relationship with Will.
Despite the fact that I really loved this film, I wasn’t impressed with the ending. “The Inbetweeners 2” had a long build up, and each scene paid off nicely, so for it to finish so abruptly was very disappointing. Jay’s storyline didn’t deliver after promising so much, which was particularly unfortunate, because I felt that it added a whole new dimension to his character. I would’ve actually been quite content with a soppy ending to this film, but I think that perhaps the filmmakers learnt from the first movie and decided against it because a happy ending doesn’t really lend itself to another film or series. Another problem I had with the ending was the scene during the credits, in which the Inbetweeners meet their loved ones at the airport, as it was recycled from the first film. Although the Inbetweeners go on holiday in both films this second chapter didn’t really feel like a sequel until the final hurdle.
Overall this is a huge improvement from the first film, which I did enjoy quite a lot. A film should be analysed in terms of what it tries to be and in that sense this film is near perfection, because it’s extremely funny, the story works well, and all the performances feel genuine. I feel that this film will appeal to a wider audience than both the show and the first film because the dialogue is smarter and Inbetweeners’ classics are sparingly used. “The Inbetweeners 2” is about friendship, about how you have to make the best out of bad situations, about the fact that no matter how hard you try some things just won’t go your way; but mostly it’s a film with a heart that isn’t afraid to nudge you to the floor, kick you while you’re down, laugh in your face and simply call it bants.