DIR/WRI: Damon Beesley, Iain Morris • PRO: Spencer Millman • DOP:Ben Wheeler • ED: William Webb • DES: Richard Bullock • MUS: David Arnold, Michael Price • CAST: Simon Bird, James Buckley, Blake Harrison, Joe Thomas
In the beginning there was the TV show and the show was good. Then came the first film and even amid the hype of its release, it seemed like a very hesitant step into features for the comedic quartet who were the affable heart of the TV version. Still the hype and popularity of the performers powered through to turn their Spanish sojourn into a palpable hit. Palpable but not really understandable considering anyone recommending the film off the back of the superior TV show was left feeling a little foolish.
Between the first and second film, the show’s creators Iain Morris and Damon Beesley have moved into the directors’ chairs. Thereby surely clinching their creative control over the entire project. Their directing instincts display promising flair in an early sequence evoking the humping hubris of Jay (James Buckley) with a slickness that serves like a puerile companion to the continuous beach shot from Atonement. Jay regales his UK-based buddies from the apparent safety of Oz with his customary tall tales of rampant sexual conquests. However, when Will, Simon and Neil show up to partake in the shenanigans, the reality is naturally rather pathetic.
Er, but it’s not the directing that really required most focus. For the second time, the truly adult cast of the show have been massively short-changed. In fact, the complete absence of the boys’ suburban existence mars this film exactly like its predecessor. Newcomers might assume the original show was a travel series based exclusively on the features. In the rush to get the students to Australia as quickly as possible, an entire first act is ditched. The infinite potential fun in the struggle or graft or chicanery needed to raise funds for a long-haul holiday is breezed past with a throwaway line. The increasingly awkward interactions with parents and authority figures were mined brilliantly in the show but have been restricted to mere cameos here.
To be honest though, this is a much better film. The targets are often soft – Simon Bird’s rant against posh gap year toffs posing as hippies – but far more jokes hit their actual target. Deficiencies on the writing sides are even bailed out by the superb physical skills of the cast at times. Surely no one knew before cameras rolled, how funny the straight legged desperate shuffle of Neil (Blake Harrison) towards a mirage would actually be. The directors have the conviction to hold the shot and it justifies the existence of the entire film in that moment. It’s not always so clever. The regular sightings of prosthetic testicles aren’t as inherently hilarious as some involved here believe. The makers also depict a poo in the pool moment that would make the Farrelly Brothers cringe. It’s either the zenith of the nadir of the franchise’s ambition. Though oddly, I’m in between about it.
16 (See IFCO for details)
The Inbetweeners 2 is released on 8th August 2014