The Inbetweeners 2 (2014)

The Inbetweeners 2After a disastrous night on the town in Bristol, where one of their number now attends university, Will (Simon Bird), Simon (Joe Thomas) and Neil (Blake Harrison) resolve to spend the rest of their vacation in Australia, where Jay (James Buckley) is believed to be living out his gap year in luxury as a celebrated DJ at one of the country’s most renowned nightclubs. When they arrive, however, the find him working instead as the club’s bog-goblin, sleeping in a tent in his uncle’s front garden and ruing the day he broke up with Jane (Lydia Rose Bewley). Striking a compromise between Will’s wanderlust and the rest of the group’s desire to visit Splash Planet, they embark on a road-trip to Byron Bay, travelling alongside a friend from the former’s childhood who may just want to sleep with him.

Having opened to glowing reviews and strong box office returns, The Inbetweeners Movie was never going to be the last we saw of Will, Simon, Neil and Jay. Three years later, the foursome are back for a sequel, this time leaving Malia behind for the Gold Coast of Australia. Of all the relationships established at the close of the first film, only Simon and Lucy remain together, essentially resetting the score and leaving the others to court disaster once more. Narratively, only a few months have elapsed since the friends returned from Crete, and they are much and such as we left them. Writer-directors Damon Beesley and Iain Morris may pursue marginally more depth than Ben Palmer did last time, but it’s essentially a retread of the same lads abroad story as before.

Rather than embrace their new medium, the filmmakers are still treating their movie as a double-length TV episode, and the sequel’s road-trip formula arguably makes the franchise feel even more episodic than it did last time. Having dispensed with the cliches withing minutes of Jay’s reintroduction, the film doesn’t then bother to explore the real Australia but rather ignore its setting altogether. The supporting cast is almost exclusively British (though it’s possible that Harry Potter‘s Freddie Stroma was going for an Aussie accent), while the major set-pieces occur out of context in universal holiday camps and generic theme parks. It makes the scenarios more relatable, perhaps, but simultaneously leaves setting seeming completely redundant. How did two students and a bank teller manage to afford last-minute return tickets to Australia anyway?

As a result, the opening act feels overly familiar and more than a little forced. Thankfully, however, once the four friends are reunited the gag rate increases sufficiently to compensate. There are some big laughs in The Inbetweeners 2, and while it might not be as consistently funny as the original it boasts a scattering of set pieces that manage to be both bigger and better than any individual jokes from its predecessor. Compromising campsite situations, lols on the log flume and an attempt at desert rehydration will likely have you crying with laughter, while more nuanced characterisation might leave you tearing up in earnest too. After three seasons and a movie the creators have finally got to the heart of Jay, and without making him any less crass or cretinous Beesley and Morris have succeeded in making him considerably more complex.

It’s not entirely clear where The Inbetweeners might go next — as with 22 Jump Street the credits sequence preemptively rules out a number of the more obvious possibilities — but the latest film leaves things open-ended enough for some sort of continuation. The format might have run its course, but the characters still have their whole lives ahead of them.

3-Stars

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About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

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