It’s been a short two years since The Inbetweeners boys were on the big screen, and after vowing never to return, the record breaking box office results swayed them to re-think that decision. With money as the dominating factor in the creation of a sequel, it’s unsurprising then that their second outing is an astounding failure in every way.
Given that this is a sequel, and there’s been three seasons of a TV show, I’m going to assume you’re familiar with the characters by now. The film starts with Neil, Simon and Will being their usual pathetic selves, when Neil receives an email from Jay who’s taking a gap year in Australia. In it, he describes his life of luxury, and reveals he’s become quite the celebrity DJ over there. He invites them out to visit and with their student loans (which they somehow managed to save ALL of, even though it’s the end of term) the trio take him up on his offer. Of course, Jay’s still the loser he was back in England and isn’t famous at all, but now reunited, the group set out on a backpacking adventure across Oz.
From the offset, it’s clear that the quality of writing is far below what fans of the series have come to love. The introduction of the boys who are still in England is a joke that’s been done to death and doesn’t work here either. I personally have never been a fan of the show (although I must admit, the Thorpe Park episode is an exception), but could see where the appeal lay – the target audience have all had (or been) friends that the foursome portrayed. The situations they found themselves in were cringeworthy due to their believability, but also their outrageous nature; fish punch anyone? We both laughed at and with the boys. As films from TV series go, 2011’s The Inbetweeners was narratively formulaic but had it’s moments. Plus, the set up was not all that uncommon – a ‘lads holiday’ is a safe and plausible device. Here, absolutely none of it makes any real sense. I get that Jay could have taken a gap year, but for the other three to drop everything to fly out to Australia on the basis of a single email from a friend who is known for lying about how well he’s doing? I don’t buy it.
There’s nothing worse than a film that fails to fulfil its basic genre conventions, and that’s exactly what occurs here – The Inbetweeners 2 is a comedy with no laughs. It’s riddled with vulgar language and sex related dialogue, but none of them succeed in even raising a smile. It’s especially tragic when you know the actors are now either in their 30’s, or dangerously close. A sequence at a water park may generate a few groans of disgust, but it’s a gag that’s been done again and again in past movies, with one in particular coming straight to mind. (Hint: it’s another TV show to film venture).
All of these negative points could be overlooked if the characters had retained their likeability and the individual personalities that made them famous in the series. Neil, always seen as the dumb one, does ask stupid questions and throws out a random quip, but none of them hit the funny bone. Jay (James Buckley) overdoes the sex talk to a point where it’s irritating to hear him speak and Simon (Joe Thomas) is just… there. The focus appears to be on Will (Simon Bird) this time round, and his attempts to sleep with Beth, an old school friend who he just so happens to bump into across the other side of the world. I will admit, Will’s rant about Beth and her friends did make me nod in agreement – he makes a lot of valid points about their particular friendship circle. The scene is a very, very small spark in a rusted old vehicle though and was far from enough to reignite my interest.
If you find various ways of describing sex and female genitalia hilarious, then The Inbetweeners 2 will be your film of the year. But if you have any sense of humour, any at all, stay away. I can’t even recommend this to fans of the series, as it may seriously tarnish your opinion of the show.
Sequel W***ers, indeed.