THE INBETWEENERS MOVIE (2011)
Movie Review by L. L. Soares
THE INBETWEENERS was a British TV show that aired from 2008 – 2010. It’s about four high-school age guys who are trying to get laid, basically. The new British movie version of THE INBETWEENERS is much of the same. Not that it’s all that original a concept. Here in America, we’ve had our share of like-minded movies like the PORKY’S series in the 1980s and the AMERICAN PIE films (from 1999 through several sequels, including this year’s AMERICAN REUNION). But hey, what the hell. We’ve copied enough British shows over the years. In fact, MTV currently has an Americanized version of THE INBETWEENERS as part of their new television line-up.
The clips I’ve seen of the British version of the TV show look pretty funny, but I can’t say the same about THE INBETWEENERS MOVIE (made in 2011, but now showing in theaters in America a year later). My biggest complaint about the movie is that it’s just not that funny. But more on that in a moment.
THE INBETWEENERS MOVIE gives us four misfits about to graduate the British equivalent of high school and heading off to “university.” They are Simon (Joe Thomas), a good-looking bloke who is obsessed with his girlfriend Carli (Emily Head); sleazy Jay (James Buckley), who is obsessed with sex and always talking in innuendos, when he’s not lying about his “exploits;” dim bulb Neil (Blake Harrison) who is the only one of the four who has actually had sex with a girl, even though he’s clearly an idiot; and Will (Simon Bird), a very uptight, nerdy guy who looks like a young George Costanza with a British accent. He’s always overdressed and always looks uncomfortable. He’s also the funniest of the four.
When Simon and Carli break up because they’re going away to different schools, the other guys seek to cheer him up by bringing him on a fun summer getaway to the isle of Crete in Greece. Of course, all the guys can think about on their way there is sex, drinking, and more sex. But they’re so awkward, you know they aren’t going to be getting much action.
Early on, they meet a quartet of British girls in a (mostly abandoned) night club. Of course, as the movie goes on, the two groups will get closer, but it’s clear none of them are having the wild old time they expected, except for maybe Alison (Laura Haddock) who is having an affair with a Greek waiter named Nicos. But of course, before the guys can realize these are the girls they want to be with, they have to have lots of misadventures and there have to be several misunderstandings. Otherwise, this would be a short movie.
So we get lots of drunken escapades, and lots of missed opportunities with the opposite sex. There’s even some nudity (mostly the guys) along the way.
If a comedy is only as good as the amount of laughs it pulls out of you, then THE INBETWEENERS MOVIE isn’t much of a success. I only laughed a few times. Most of the jokes were either stuff I’ve seen before, or just not that funny, which is too bad, because these are talented guys. I just think the script was rather weak.
The saving grace here– like most “bromance” comedies these days – is that the movie has heart. It may not be the funniest thing you’ll ever see, but some of the characters are likable enough. I especially liked Simon Bird as Will. He’s so obviously uncomfortable most of the time that you can practically feel it, but he’s also the most human of the four leads, and the most sympathetic. I actually found myself wishing the movie was more about him.
Blake Harrison as Neil is also pretty likable. Although he seems to have the best luck with girls (especially old biddies looking for some “young stuff”), he also seems to have the tiniest brain of the bunch, and runs around with spray-on tan for most of the movie. Jay (James Buckley) has his moments as well, but he is so sex-obsessed and pervy that he comes off as creepy at times. But hey, he’s a horny kid, so he’s supposed to be like that.
I actually liked Simon (Joe Thomas) the least of the bunch. All he talks about is his ex-girlfriend Carli and how he wants to get back together with her. While this is obviously the point, and he’s supposed to be annoying, especially when he goes on and on about Carli when he’s supposed to be paying attention to new girl Lucy (Tamla Kari), it just reaches a point where you want to knock him out and shut him up. He crosses the line from being funny to being downright annoying. He’s just a one-note character. Of course, his beloved Carli is in Crete on her holiday, too, and turns out to be kind of a bitch by the movie’s end.
The girls come off better, even if they aren’t the main characters here. Laura Haddock as Alison, who I mentioned before, is a real highlight and her banter with Will is some of the best dialogue in the movie. And it’s interesting to see them get closer as the movie goes on, and she sees the real Will under all that awkwardness. Tamla Kari is cute and likable as Lucy. Jessica Knappett as Lisa isn’t given much to do while Neil chases after cougars (well, they’re a little old even for cougars), although, once we finally get to know her by the end, it turns out she’s as dim as he is (big surprise). And Lydia Rose Bewley is quite good as the overweight, self-deprecating Jane, who the obnoxious Jay slowly starts to warm up to, after first rejecting her.
The characters really aren’t that bad. It’s just that they’re not given an awful lot to do that’s all that interesting or funny. Writers Iain Morris and Damon Beesley could have given us a punchier script. It would have been nice to have some real laughs here – and the attempts at outrageous humor (male nudity, etc.) just aren’t all that outrageous. The direction by Ben Palmer is adequate. He also directed the television show, so doing the movie wasn’t much of a stretch, especially since the movie doesn’t seem to really give us a lot more than we would have gotten on television.
I went into this one really hoping to have a good time, and I was ready to do a lot of laughing. But there were long waits between any really funny scenes, and I left feeling kind of cheated. I’m surprised this movie got released in American theaters, even if it’s in limited release, and I’m not sure if it will win the characters any new fans. Maybe we should seek out the original TV show instead.
I give THE INBETWEENERS MOVIE two knives. The characters are okay, but there are too few laughs.
© Copyright 2012 by L.L. Soares
LL Soares gives THE INBETWEENERS MOVIE ~two knives.