Thursday, 18 August 2011

The Inbetweeners

Rarely has a TV show so accurately captured the puerile way boys banter with each other. Endless insults, mum-jokes and sexual innuendoes are the language of the playground, the sixth-form common room, university halls and beyond. Even in adulthood there’s still something deeply appealing about making a masturbation-related joke about your mate’s sister.

However exaggerated, there’s an element of Neil, Will, Simon and Jay which is instantly recognizable. The drinking, the vomiting, the awkwardness around the opposite sex and the – often unwitting – nudity are familiar to anyone who’s been through adolescence. Which of the characters you relate to most readily is a sure fire indicator of how your teenage years played out. And even if you can’t see yourself in The Inbetweeners you can at least laugh at every mention of ‘clunge’.

Taking a TV format and transferring it to the silver screen has not always proved successful, but The Inbetweeners has taken very few chances here. Transplanting the gang from suburbia to Malia is a plot device guaranteed to provide numerous opportunities for the gang to cause mischief, behave badly and shoehorn gratuitous nudity into their first (and last) feature film.

There are concessions to the cinema format – the film opens with an unfamiliar swooping camera tracking through the urban neighbourhood where the characters live. Normal service is resumed, however, when it finally alights upon its subject: a snorkel clad Jay, masturbating to internet porn. With the tone firmly set, all it takes is the break-up of Simon and Carly’s relationship to see the action moved to Greece.

Fans of the series will not be disappointed. The gags come thick and fast, dead dogs are pulled from wells and Jay’s obsession with pussy, tits, sex and clunge is undimmed. There are numerous laugh-out-loud moments in the style to which fans have become accustomed – many of which rely on Jay’s bullshit bragging and Will’s endless cynicism.

It’s not a complete success though. The plot is predictable and although it seems churlish to chastise a film like The Inbetweeners for being implausible, the romances which form between the guys and their four female equivalents seems utterly contrived. Add to this Simon’s frankly boring obsession with Carly and a ridiculous scene in which he voluntarily gives his clothes to a boorish holiday rep and there are a few bum notes.

The whole thing is held together by the obvious camaraderie between the boys. It’s clear that the group are friends on and off the screen and the action is never better than when it concentrates on the quartet. At times it’s actually quite touching – writers Damon Beesley and Ian Morris just manage to steer the right side of mawkish sentimentality.

Despite the contrivances of the plot, The Inbetweeners will not disappoint fans of the TV show. It’s ruder, cruder and lewder than it could ever be on Channel Four and contains enough shots of cleavages and penises to entertain anyone. And unlike the majority of ‘comedy’ releases lately, it’s very, very funny.

Oh, and on the day that sixth-formers across the country picked up their A-level results, Greg Davies’ vicious leaving speech to his charges is a moment of absolute genius.

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