‘The Inbetweeners Movie’ review: hit UK series limps to the big screen

The Inbetweeners, an E4 sitcom about a group of outcast adolescents, is genuinely worth catching. A kind of UK cousin to Freaks and Geeks, with all the raunchy humor (and then some) of the American Pie films, it perfectly captured the awful awkwardness of its young heroes in quick-witted, fast-paced, funny, and even charming (despite the raciness) 30-minute episodes.

The Inbetweeners Movie, on the other hand, is missing just about all the qualities that made the TV series fun. Removing its young cast from the reality of their situation – family, school, UK society – and placing them in a summer holiday in Malia, the film version turns into an aimless, foul-mouthed Frankie & Annette Beach Party movie, with a primary focus on sex & booze.

Friends Will (Simon Bird), Simon (Joe Thomas), Jay (James Buckley), and Neil (Blake Harrison) have graduated sixth form (high school). For those that haven’t seen the show, the characters are summed up quickly in the film’s opening minutes: Will is the arrogant nerd (and also our narrator); Jay the chronic liar (and masturbator); Simon a hopeless lovebird; and Neil is, well, the dumb one.

Little seems to have happened since the quartet were last seen at the end of series three, though Neil somehow managed to snag himself a girlfriend, Simon is finally going out with dream girl Carli (Emily Head), who he has pursued throughout the series, Will chats with his father (who we see for the first time), and Jay’s grandfather dies, leaving him an inheritance that will come in useful on the gang’s upcoming holiday in Malia.

Ah, Malia, the tourist hotspot perfect for sun, sea, booze, sex, and other four and five-letter words for carnal activity. Forget the sea and sun, and there’s the bulk of the movie: eighty minutes of drinking, clubbing, partying, and skirt-chasing to go along with dick, fart, piss and vomit jokes, some of the series’ trademark public humiliation humor, and a confrontation or two with the local “bully”.

The gang also meets a quartet of women (British tourists, of course) who seem to be their female equivalents. While Will hits it off with Alison (Laura Haddock), the script, unfortunately, finds reason for Jay, Neil, and Simon to mistreat their counterparts for the majority of the film; Jay doesn’t want to be with the “fat one”, Simon is still fixated on Carli, who dumped him earlier but is also on holiday in Malia, and Neil, for some reason, keeps his head buried in a slutty grandmother’s chest.

It’s unusually misogynistic behavior for these characters, and while the series would have some swift, humiliating payback in store for them, the film cops out with formulaic sympathy, allowing these guys to redeem themselves. 

The film was directed by Ben Palmer and written by Iain Morris & Damon Beesley; they were also responsible for most of the series, which is surprising given the quality of writing on display here.

While some of the gags are still pretty funny, The Inbetweeners Movie will have little value for non-fans of the TV series. Fans will get the added kick of seeing these characters again – and they are nearly-likable characters we can relate to, well-portrayed by an earnest cast – but will also have to deal with a rather sloppy transition to the big screen; a few episodes strung together will offer a more substantial experience.


Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky has been writing about the Prague film scene and reviewing films in print and online media since 2005. A member of the Online Film Critics Society, you can also catch his musings on life in Prague at expats.cz and tips on mindfulness sourced from ancient principles at MaArtial.com.

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