Although originally intended as an unambiguous farewell to the television series, the unprecedented popularity and box office success of The Inbetweeners Movie – which set the record for the biggest opening weekend for a comedy film in the UK – made it inevitable that the quartet would be back for another dose of cringey mishaps and clunge-related hilarity.
Yet there’s no evidence of Damon Beesley and Iain Morris – who also step behind the camera to direct for the first time – playing it safe by throwing out a greatest hits parade and coasting on the franchise’s massive fanbase to ensure financial success. In fact, the writers and performers are more outrageous than ever, reuniting the Pussay Patrol to deliver one of the funniest films of the year.
While the first movie followed the Inbetweeners’ awkward misadventures on their first holiday abroad sans parental guidance, The Inbetweeners 2 takes aim at the pretentious middle classes who embark on life-affirming gap years and talk about their spiritual awakenings while an absolute weapon plays guitar badly around a campfire.
After a slow and clunky start that seeks to establish Will and Simon’s miserable experiences of uni life and reintroduce Jay as a legendary night club DJ stroke millionaire playboy who claims to have had a threesome with every Aussie bar Rolf Harris, the movie finally clicks into gear when Will, Simon and Neil decide to jet off to join Jay in Australia. Why is it called Down Under? “Because that’s where your face spends most of the time,” explains perpetual bullshitter Jay upon his friends’ arrival.
From then on the jokes come thick and fast, the cast executing gross-out gags, smutty one-liners and excruciatingly awkward encounters with precision as Beesley and Morris continue to prise major lolz from the crapness of the average teenage experience.
But amidst all the comic exaggerations, there’s a genuine resonance with the four friends that makes the characters so appealing. The experience of clinging to adolescent relationships in the face of the overwhelming circumstances of university is one to which many twentysomethings can relate. Six years on from their first appearance on E4 and these characters still find a way to make you feel less ashamed of your own humiliating adolescence.
Simon Bird continues to be the ostensible star of proceedings and as such gets most to do as delusional nerd Will Mackenzie, whose pursuit of flirty backpacker Katie (Emily Berrington), a primary school crush who also happens to be travelling through Australia, quickly turns into extreme stalking, complete with a strangled rendition of The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.
Not that the remaining trio are left to fend for themselves as Beesley and Morris supply them with plenty to do. Thompson’s impetuous romantic Simon desperately tries to escape his psychotic girlfriend Lucy (Tamla Kari), Buckley once again makes the endearing pain shine through Jay’s defensive bravado, and Harrison is always happy to provide gormless comic relief as Neil gets his balls cleansed by a canine and defecates on a water slide in two of the film’s funniest moments.
The movie can’t quite sustain the laughs through to the end as a drawn out trip to the Outback never finds a pay-off and it lacks the sense of finality that made the first film such as fulfilling experience as the boys return home in pretty much the same state as when they left. Yet it is a surprisingly successful return that achieves the all-to-rare feat of being funnier than the first through fearless writing and impressive performances. If this is to be their final farewell – and all involved insist it will be – then it is a fitting way to bring one of this generation’s greatest comic creations to a close.
Running time: 96 mins; Genre: Comedy; Released: 6 August 2014;
Directors: Damon Beesley, Iain Morris; Screenwriters: Damon Beesley, Iain Morris;
Starring: Simon Bird, Blake Harrison, Joe Thomas, James Buckley, Emily Berrington.
Click here to watch the trailer for The Inbetweeners 2