‘Chasing a girl around Australia isn’t romantic, it’s extreme stalking…’
Sometimes you have to have lived through a thing to truly appreciate it. The music of the Stone Roses or the Libertines. Event TV shows like Six Feet Under. The heady, hysterical romance of Titanic. Robbed of the context of the time in which they were made, all of those things suffer. Channel 4’s The Inbetweeners may well prove to be the same. It’s only 12 years since the first series dropped yet it has already aged quite badly, particularly as nobody involved has come even remotely close to matching the runaway success of their respective breakout roles. But for me, The Inbetweeners couldn’t have been more perfectly timed. I was barely out of my teenage years when it dropped and rather than the distant memory they are now, my school years were barely behind me. The first Inbetweeners Movie just about justified its own existence, but surely a sequel is a step too far? Well… not quite.
Neil (Blake Harrison), Simon (Joe Thomas) and Will (Simon Bird) travel to Australia to meet up with Jay (James Buckley) for another questionable adventure. On the way they will take in unbearable backpackers, an incredibly clingy girlfriend and a disastrous trip to the water park.
The Inbetweeners always thrived in the moments in which our heroes were taking the piss out of each other. This is a remarkably accurate representation of how teenage boys speak to each other, and while it is crude, it also contains some genuinely wonderful wordplay. The obsession with sex from the source material is toned down just a little bit here, which is fine, but the increase in scatalogical humour is both odd and uncalled for. The Inbetweeners was never a show that relied on dick and fart jokes, instead it used them as a base for more sophisticated fare. Or maybe that’s just how I remember it?
That being said, the key to the huge success of both the TV show and the first film was in the relationships. The four main cast members share a wonderful chemistry, and it is still thrilling merely to see them interact with each other. The dynamics remain largely unchanged, and it is their swapping of insults that produce the best moments in this largely financially motivated sequel.
All in all, Inbetweeners 2 isn’t really a good movie. Indeed, it feels more like an extended episode, but at its best, it does capture the essence of what made these characters so beloved in the first place. They may sound like they hate each other beyond comprehension, but actually, that is the only way boys can display affection. I’ll never watch it again, but for 90 minutes, Inbetweeners 2 took me back to a place that I have missed dearly, but one that I wouldn’t want to return to. Mission pretty much accomplished then.