UK Hit “The Inbetweeners Movie” Takes On the U.S.

Simon Cooper (Joe Thomas), Neil Sutherland (Blake Harrison), Will McKenzie (Simon Bird), and Jay Cartwright (James Buckley) are “The Inbetweeners”

It’s rare to find a comedic film whose trailer is just as funny as the film itself, but this is definitely the case with “The Inbetweeners Movie”.  For the uninitiated, scores of fans in the UK have followed the misadventures of Will McKenzie (Simon Bird), Jay Cartwright (James Buckley), Simon Cooper (Joe Thomas), and Neil Sutherland (Blake Harrison) in the wildly popular Channel 4 comedy series “The Inbetweeners” during its 3 series run.  The four socially awkward friends blundered their way through sixth form (equivalent to a year 4 and 5 of high school in the U.S.) in the series, and the feature film brings them to graduation.  Life is about to change for them, but before they enter the “real” world they decide to call themselves “The Pussay Patrol” and fly off on their own to the Greek isle of Malia for a wild two weeks of booze, partying, women, and sex (they hope).   All of these things do happen… but not exactly how they had hoped.  Simon hopelessly moons after his long-time dream girl Carli, and the boys just wander into one mortifying situation after another.

There are countless laugh-out-loud moments—Neil showing up for the trip with an orange face- “I borrowed some of my sister’s self-tan so I’d look ready for the beach” (I’m paraphrasing), “What, just on your face?”  “…I’ve got some on my hands now too.”  Mr. Gilbert’s speech at graduation, so filled with utter contempt for all the students;  Jay waking up outside the hotel with his face firmly planted in an ant hill;  Will waking up by the pool with an obscene drawing sunburned onto his back;  Neil becoming a cougar-magnet; The boys’ awkward attempt at dancing to impress some girls in a near-empty bar.  Speaking of the girls, the addition of the four female love interests- one for each of the friends –adds a new dimension to their dynamic.  It’s an entertaining spectacle to see the boys alternately make nice with and unintentionally alienate these sweet ladies.

Neil tries to order some beers for the guys in a suspiciously empty bar.

The movie has the audience rooting for the underdog, as they dodge sketchy conflicts with bullies.  Their outrageous hijinks are reminiscent of American teen comedy films like “American Pie”, the TV series “Freaks and Geeks”, and especially the movie “Superbad”.  The filmmakers knew that they had to reach an audience that had never seen the show.  Having been influenced by these hallmarks of American pop culture, they’re pretty confident the film will gain a responsive audience in the U.S.  However, there’s something funnier and more refreshing about this UK take on the teen comedy.  It could be in its boldness to be unafraid showing a tasteful amount of both male and female nudity, something from which American media shies away.  It could also be the classic cringe-worthy kind of humor for which British entertainment is so famous (ala “The Office”).

The characters are all highly relatable geeks.  We’ve all either known someone like these guys, or have actually been them at some point while growing up.  Screenwriters Damon Beesley and Iain Morris actually based “brainiac” Will and “hopelessly sincere” Simon on their younger selves, and made them even more awkward for comedic effect.  I’m sure many high school and college geeks can relate to the scene where one of the girls, Alison (Laura Haddock), says to Will, “You’re not normal, are you?”

The friends (minus Simon) with their love interests at the boat party

Whedon fans will be happy to know of a couple connections in “The Inbetweeners Movie.”  (You are reading a review on Whedonopolis.com, after all.)  Anthony Stewart Head makes an appearance as Will’s father in a small role, and Simon’s crush Carli is played by Emily Head, Anthony Stewart Head’s daughter.  You can really see the family resemblance in her face.

In the television series, the boys are always getting into some kind of trouble, but the difference in the big screen version is that this time they’re far from home and they don’t have their parents around to bail them out.  By placing them in the big scary world outside their comfort zone, Beesley, Morris, and director Ben Palmer take “The Inbetweeners” to a new level where their friendships, relationships to women, and behaviors in public are challenged, and they must learn some important life lessons.  Fortunately, the result is hilarious.

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Post Author: Amy Hirschman

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