It wasn’t but two or three decades back that the late John Hughes made being a teen cool again. Especially for girls. No offense to any of the fans of his movies, but Hughes always played more in the girls’ wholesome sandbox than he ever did the boys. Granted, boys were always present – in much the same way a young Anthony Michael Hall sought after and showed a girl’s underwear in exchange for a dollar bill – but they were never front and center. Molly Ringwald was. A few years back, the film SUPERBAD kinda/sorta did for teenage boys what PRETTY IN PINK and SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL did long before for girls – with some modest thematic differences – and thank goodness the British import THE INBETWEENERS explores similar territory.
After all, what’s it truly like to be a teenager boy? No longer a child but not yet a man, the ‘inbetweener’ is constantly barraged with peer pressure in ways too numerous to recount. From beers to girls – from driving to drinking – a young man’s life is little more than an assortment of one misadventure to the next. He doesn’t wanna disappoint his girl, but he can’t live with alienating his ‘mates,’ either. THE INBETWEENER mines the inescapable embarrassment of being a teen in modern times. Even when that means having the hots for your best friend’s mother!
Will McKenzie (played by Simon Bird) is enduring a tween-life crisis. His mother (the comely Belinda Stewart-Wilson) is divorcing his dad, and the loss of household income forces her to put Will in public school. The transition from jacket-and-tie existence to less formal uniforms is the least of his worries when he befriends lovable dufus Simon (Joe Thomas), the always clueless Neil (Blake Harrison), and borderline sex pervert Jay (James Buckley). Together, they’ll wreck havoc all over town, even when they don’t intend it, and they’ll brave the tail end of their adolescent years with the hearts on their sleeves, the smell of beer on their breath, and the dreams of their next shagging in their minds!
Put aside your understandable prudishness and fully embrace what it was like to be a raving ‘tween’ again. I’ve no doubt that you had friends like Will, Simon, Neil, and Jay in “the best years of your life,” and maybe you still do today, though I’ll hope (if you won’t) that they’ve matured somewhat. Yes, there are some borderline offensive jokes, and, yes, there are a few subject matters (like pedophilia, for example) that are treated with kid gloves a bit too much … but there’s still an awful lot of innocuous charm wrapped up in what it meant to make it through the era of raging hormones, acne, your first beer, your first kiss, your first club, your first fight, and making out beneath the bleachers.
THE INBETWEENERS: THE COMPLETE SERIES was produced by Bwark Productions and Young Films. DVD distribution (stateside) is being handled by Foundry Communications and EntertainmentOne. It all looks and sounds solid, and – for those of you like me who sometimes struggle with British accents – there’s even an English-subtitling track. Each season includes six episodes (three discs total), and each disc includes a solid handful of special features including deleted scenes, outtakes (not all that funny, but there are a few clever moments), video diaries, behind-the-scenes specials, and audio commentaries.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. As is the nature of bawdy comedies, THE INBETWEENERS certainly isn’t for everyone. I will say that it wasn’t as raunchy as it could’ve been, and I’m comfy admitting that not all of the territory covered was all that hilarious. Still, the program approached so much of the boys’ misadventures with a sense of benign harmlessness that I found it easy to won over by the charm and commitment of the four leads. Plus, there’s a major motion picture that made a bucket of money from the British box office, so if you’re looking for a solid primer before catching it theatrically in the U.S. , you might be well served. At times offensive but more often delightful, THE INBETWEENERS deserves to be discovered, at least, by like-minded male nitwits the world wide over.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the good folks at Foundry Communcations and EntertainmentOne provided me with a DVD screener copy of THE INBETWEENERS: THE COMPLETE SERIES by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review.
What did you think of this review?