A final fairwell for the fumbling foursome – but is the silver screen a step too far?
What is it about The Inbetweeners? What started out as a simplistic and, truthfully, not entirely original comedy show on E4 has become a phenomenon.
It’s full of crudity, inspired numerous useless catchphrases ('Friend! Football Friend!') and brought back many uncomfortable memories of adolescence for many of its viewers. (And, on a personal note, it’s left me with an unforgettable doppelganger.)
But it’s also undeniably funny and even occasionally affecting. And fans need not worry, as those qualities have successfully transferred themselves to the big screen.
With the film version – the final episode for the gang of four –, writers Damon Beesley and Iain Morris have taken the formula one step further and created their own Hangover. Or British Pie if you prefer. The difference is that it’s cleverer and more genuine than its American counterpart.
The movie starts with our four intrepid heroes – smart but socially inept Will (Simon Bird), hopeless romantic Simon (Joe Thomas), Mr Exaggeration, Jay (James Buckley) and dim Neil (Blake Harrison) – graduating from Rudge Park Comprehensive.
When Carli (Emily Head) decides she no longer wants to see Simon, the others decide there’s no better way for him to get over her than for all four of them to go on a lads’ holiday. So it’s off to Crete for sun, sea, sand – and humiliation.
It’s only natural that when a TV show transfers to the big screen, there will be the odd lull, or need to initiate those in the audience who aren’t so familiar with the TV series. And although the film is consistently funny throughout, with some real laugh out loud moments, it never quite hits the heights of the excellent prologue at Rudge Park.
There’s also one joke featuring a disabled character that I believe was done much better in the series, and a stretched out set piece with Neil and Jay in a nightclub that doesn’t quite work.
But thankfully, for the most part, Beesley and Morris adopt the Airplane! approach to comedy, in that the punch lines keep coming so fast that if one doesn’t work, you don’t have to wait too long for one that does.
Remarkably, Beesley and Morris manage to both mock the cliché of the 'poignant scene' and draw some pathos from it. (From day one, I’ve always felt it’s miraculous that they manage to make us feel sorry for a borderline sex pest like Jay.)
Best of all is that there are no out of character moments – the characters stay true to themselves, which is great news for fans of the series and those who just like a good comedy.
There are plenty of questions to be answered in The Inbetweeners Movie. Is Carli genuinely a nice girl, or as stuck up as everyone but Simon thinks she is? Will Neil try to impress girls with his robot dance? Will the film be crude enough to raise moments where you’ll really want to look away? Most importantly, will the lads achieve their Holy Grail of getting laid?
All of these questions and more are answered, and satisfactorily at that. But don't take my word for it, take my doppleganger's: 'I promise, it’ll be worth it. Unencumbered thrills.'
The Inbetweeners Movie is on general release now.