There’s a grand period in everyone’s life when you realize you’re not quite a child any longer, though you’re still a few days, weeks, months, or years (in some cases) shy of true ‘adult’ maturity. Rarely do we find this epiphany on our own. Instead, it’s pointed out by those around us. They might laugh or chuckle at us – not rudely, of course, because that would be downright mean. Instead, those laughs from a place of deeper understanding, and they’re legitimately meant to be more an outward reflection on how they, too, once stood on this precarious precipice, waiting for grown-up experiences to come their way. With those comes wisdom … or so our parents warned us …
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers solely necessary for the discussion of plot and characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last two paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
Finally graduating from high school, Will (played by Simon Bird) and his best buds Jay (James Buckley), Neil (Blake Harrison), and Simon (Joe Thomas) want nothing more than to put those painful memories to rest, once and for all. What’s the best remedy? How about a summer vacation to a carefree Greek island paradise where they can party their cares away until the wee small hours of the morning? Of course – with this group of friends – nothing ever quite goes as planned, but, before their vacation is over, they swear to let nothing stand in their way of heavy drinking and ‘shagging’ like it was the end of times!
Raunchy teenage comedies are a dime a dozen, but few of them have ever been as inspired as the much praised Brit-com, THE INBETWEENERS. Conceived and written by Damon Beesley and Iain Morris, the program ran for three seasons and garnered an impression 13 nominations and awards for acting, writing and presentation. When it ended, the fans probably thought its run was over, but, thankfully, Beesley and Morris did one better: they quickly penned a follow-up theatrical script in order to give the four boys the proper send-off.
As an added plus, our boys finally do find some ‘action’ of a sort (I’d dare not spoil it for anyone still waiting to see the film) in the ladies department. While I have read some who’ve chalked their resulting romances up to a certain level of predictability, I rather thought their respective choices were fitting given the nature of who these young men are, what they stand for, and who they might inevitably shape up to be. Besides, the point of the motion picture of this type is never about defining their futures; it’s about seeing them learn to live in the moment as who they are. On that point, I believe the connections worked brilliantly, and I applaud Beesley and Morris’s smart script for not cheapening those moments.
To the film’s credit, it works extremely well as either standard viewing pleasure for established fans or simply folks new to the franchise, though I’d imagine it works better for folks who’ve watched these four knuckleheads and their misadventures from the British sitcom. I won’t deny, however, that some of the ‘punch’ behind the funnier material works better when you’re grounded in a greater understanding of some of the events from the TV show, such as the Simon/Carli relationship and the endless bickering between the four male misfits. I’d happily put this up against any similar American property that dishes mostly humor about that fragile period between the end of adolescence and the beginning of adulthood – it’s observations are simply that successful.
THE INBETWEENERS MOVIE is produced by Bwark Productions, Film4 (for), and Young Films. DVD distribution (stateside) is being handled by Lionsgate. As for the technical specs, it all looks and sounds exceptional, though there were a few sequences that may’ve been miked just a bit off (cranked up the volume, and there was no problem). The disc has an impressive assortment of special features, including a commentary track by all of the Inbetweeners themselves; a making-of featurette featuring cast and crew interviews; the obligatory deleted scenes and bloopers (deleted scenes weren’t all that grand, but the bloopers were pretty solid and very reminiscent of some goofs from the TV show); and some theatrical trailers.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Yes, it’s not quite on par with the winning television program that spawned the franchise, but most everything about THE INBETWEENERS MOVIE is still very original, very inspired, and very funny. Some of the luster may’ve worn off these social oddballs; still, it’s a charming combination of youthful over-exuberance strengthened by general cluelessness. It’s the perfect movie for anyone who never fit in … or the rest of us who honestly thought we did! Rent it for the laughs, and remember what it was like to fall in-between.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Lionsgate provided me with an advance DVD screener of THE INBETWEENERS MOVIE by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review.