The Inbetweeners 2

inbetweeners 2.jpg
UK Release Date 6th August 2014
Director Damon Beesley, Iain Morris
Starring Bird, Buckley, Harrison, Thomas
Runtime 96 Minutes
Certificate 15
Reviewer Si
Reviewed 24th August 2014

I’ll admit to being something of a latecomer when it comes to The Inbetweeners. I completely missed the first and possibly second runs of all three series and I didn’t really pay any attention until 2011’s The Inbetweeners Movie. Which I found so hilarious, I was forced to go back to the TV series and watch the whole lot. Which I found equally hilarious. Safe to say, I was looking forward to a sequel.

Having dispensed with the need to add ‘movie’ to the title, The Inbetweeners 2 finds our heroes in a variety of typical life crises. Will (Simon Bird) is busy being hugely unpopular at university, Simon (Joe Thomas) is trapped in a potentially life threatening relationship and Neil (Blake Harrison) is, well, we never really get to find out exactly what Neil is doing but it’s safe to assume it’s nothing to do with education. When Neil receives a message from Jay (James Buckley), espousing the wonderful life he has travelling Australia, the boys decide to take him up on a vague offer of a visit and head off down under. Either deciding to surprise Jay or just forgetting to let him know they are coming, the boys are somewhat surprised when they arrive in Oz as it appears Jay was less than truthful with his circumstances…

I guess the main issue with this movie comes down to that previous sentence. Nobody watching this movie is going to be surprised at the contrast between Jay’s description of his lifestyle and the reality and we’re now at a point where you have to wonder why any of the protagonists are surprised.... 

The joy of the first Movie was that it fitted nicely the character arcs from the series. The boys are finally free of the tyranny of Mr. Gilbert and for once they can head out to somewhere where nobody has any preconceptions of them. Of course they fail to take advantage of this and just end up doing what they do but then, that’s very likely what all of us would do. Far less hysterically of course but you could still relate to it and relate it back to the series. The same cannot be said of number 2. What we get is a fairly generic re-hash of all the old themes and filthy language with the odd, admittedly gut-bustingly hilarious set piece. And nothing I write here is meant to denigrate just how funny those set pieces are. There are two or three moments in this movie that are every bit as funny as the funniest moments in the series and the previous movie. Sadly though, that’s pretty much it.

It seems that somewhere along the line, writer / directors Beesely and Morris have forgotten that funny though the lads are, they need, at least an attempt at, some other properly formed characters around them. Instead we get a troop of generic cut and paste stereotypes, apparently dropped into the script in order to give an excuse for Will to eventually go off on a rant. Campfire guitar strumming bore? Yup. Hot girl from Will’s past who it turns out isn’t interested? Yup. Hippie couple constantly falling out? Yup. Abusive uncle who completely undermines Jay? Yup. You get the picture. None of these characters has anything whatsoever beyond the function I just described. Which leaves the humour lacking because it no longer relates to anything familiar. Yes the guitar guy is irritating but do we really care if he gets any kind of comeuppance?

It seems a little redundant to berate this movie for not having a plot, but that is another issue. Beyond the lads heading to Oz and a vague thread following Jay’s attempts to locate the girl who dumped him (who he has completely forgotten about, honest), there is nothing to get behind here. The lads show no sign of, if not growing up, then growing in any direction so what are we hoping for by the end? Whatever it is, we don’t get it. Jay’s girlfriend gets the merest of opportunity to pop up near to the end but she only spends the time required on screen to set Jay's (very funny) lip off.

I’ve read reviews that attack The Inbetweeners 2 for being misogynistic, which I’m not sure is entirely fair. This movie has no interest in anyone beyond the central four, whether they are male or female. Of the cast outside the lads, everyone is surplus to requirement, the men are largely obnoxious and objectionable, the women are barely written and forgettable.

In the end, I guess the issue is that, whereas The Movie had the boys moving on to something different, with the humour coming from the boys acting very much the same, number 2 merely has them continuing to do the same thing, just in a different country. And simply changing the geography is just not enough to set this one aside. Hearing Jay graphically describe what he clearly hasn’t done to a plethora of woman was funny up to a  point but as the boys near something that should be adulthood, it just gets tiring. The word ‘clunge’ is not a panacea to make any situation funny. We’ve moved on, even if the lads, bless ‘em, haven’t.

I’m tempted to revert to ‘what was I expecting’ in my view of The Inbetweener’s 2, after all, the usual brutal, filthy hilarity is there. But the previous was far more than a collection of excruciatingly hilarious stunts, it was relatable and you genuinely felt affection for the idiots at the centre. By the end of this, you just kind of feel exhausted by them. Which is a shame because there are some utterly hilarious set pieces here. You will never descend a water slide again without looking nervously behind you…..

Check out the trailer here.

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