|This girl's so wet for me I can hear the waves breaking in her fanny
Five years ago, the British teen TV channel, E4, broadcast two new shows. "Skins" was designed to shock the bourgeoisie with its tales of teen promiscuity and drug-taking. The cast was full of pretty young things playing privileged teens in affluent Bristol. By contrast, "The Inbetweeners" was about the normal boring suburban kids who live in housing estates in middle England. Kids with parents who smother them rather than ignore them - kids who struggle to get laid, argue over petrol money, and get wasted on two pints of lager. Kids who have shit cars, and girlfriends who dump them, and spend their time farting and having a wank.
"The Inbetweeners" was as much about modern life as "Skins" - with all the usual references to video games, text messaging, and interpreting the use of the "smiley face". But, for all that, "The Inbetweeners" was basically just an old-fashioned coming-of-age comedy, with four likeable protagonists worrying about the stuff we all worried about at that age, no matter which decade we grew up in. The basic premise therefore had broad appeal, hitting a wider demographic than "Skins". It showed us who we really were rather than who we wished we could've been. And the cherry on the cake was the razor-sharp, bitingly funny dialogue from writers Damon Beesley and Iain Morris (the guys behind "Peep Show"). Not to mention the young cast's fearless attitude toward humiliating themselves in public. To give you some examples....Posh geek Will Mackenzie (Simon Bird) is seen shitting himself in his AS exam; lanky dullard Neil Sutherland (Blake Harrison) is seen cutting his nob while pissing into a beer can in the back of a car; earnest but dim Simon Cooper (Joe Thomas) is seen modelling a speedo with a testacle sticking out of it; and Jay Cartwright (James Buckley) talks almost exclusively about "clunge" while completely failing to get any.
The genius of the team behind "The Inbetweeners" was to kill off the TV show when it was still brilliant and not to invent some piss-poor reason to spin it out. The kids had done their three terms in the sixth form over three short series, and that was the end of it. And this new movie looks less like the typical shameless Hollywood cash-in (you'll have to wait for the MTV produced version for that) than a credible and plausible way to continue the kids' story into the summer holiday after the school year has ended. By letting the four teens go to Greece on a cheap package holiday the writers get new targets for their humour - budget flights, dodgy accommodation, sleazy holiday reps, club-night entrance scams, and holiday romance - as well as letting the cast do what comes naturally - that is, drinking, vomiting, shitting, stripping off at inopportune moments, and somehow, by some miracle, actually finding girls that'll give them the time of day.
I laughed out loud all the way through the flick, loved the in-references to events in the TV series (Will inadvertently pissing off the disabled - but especially the cameo of Mr Gilbert, my favourite character from the TV series, over the end credits). And while I can't really judge, I'm guessing that the characters are clearly enough established within the world of the movie that even a person who hadn't watched the TV series would find it as funny. If I'm honest, Ben Wheeler's DV photography doesn't really need to be seen on a big screen, but this is in no way a glorified TV movie. There are few greater feelings in life than to be in a crowded cinema with a bunch of people sharing in the same humour. Proper R-rated humour that isn't about trying oh-so-hard to be subversive and fails (HORRIBLE BOSSES, I'm looking at you) but that stems from the reality of the moment and the authenticity of how kids speak. Seeing the lads dance over to some unsuspecting "clunge" on their first night in Greece is worth the price of the ticket alone!
THE INBETWEENERS MOVIE is on release in the UK and Ireland. It opens in Australia on October 20th and in Spain in January 2012. The Inbetweeners TV show is available on DVD and on iTunes. MTV is currently producing a US version.