Image: Bwark Productions
When I first heard Inbetweeners writers Damon Beesley and Iain Morris were plotting a sequel to the rapturously received debut, I was mortified. Undeniably, it contained some enjoyable moments; but the boys’ lascivious pilgrimage in search of carnal carnage in Malia now feels like an elongated and painfully pale pastiche of an especially bawdy episode of Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents. Morris and Beesley had done just enough to reinforce their position at the apex of the Britcom pile, but I was left with the impression that a sequel was unnecessary.
This is why the Inbetweeners 2 was such a wonderful surprise. I expected to be engulfed in relentless smut: instead, the film delivers a fantastic balance between wit and vulgarity. We join cantankerous snob Will (Simon Bird), humanoid-cum-Labrador Neil (Blake Harrison) and Simon (Joe Thomas), a man who always looks like he doesn’t know whether he’s left the oven on, on their way to Australia to meet the effortlessly predatory Jay (James Buckley), whose technicolour braggadocio forms the sticky bedrock of their adventures. Theatres across the land will be given little emotional respite as the boys traverse the spectrum from humiliation to lukewarm triumph. Watch out for a supreme(ly) self-righteous diatribe, courtesy of Will, at the expense of self-righteous ‘gap yah’ trustafarians.
What’s brilliant about the sequel is that it resists embracing the clichéd coming of age plot trajectory. The characters don’t develop into better people through harrowing trials, it’s not burdened by the same mawkish ending as the debut, and no profound lessons are imparted: it’s an amoral, hedonistic crusade. The film’s most treasured asset, much like the series, is the refreshingly realistic way in which the boys talk. The potential to offend is enormous, but so is the potential to entertain, and the show’s diverse and substantial following comes from that appealing tension. Legitimate accusations of sexism have been made about the representation of female characters like Lucy (Tamla Kari) and Katie (Emily Berrington), but it wouldn’t be the Inbetweeners if they spoke with restraint. Fans, myself included, genuinely enjoy the crudity with which Jay & co. speak, because it genuinely reflects the unvarnished rubbish that spews forth from insecure and frustrated boys of that age.
The film undoubtedly stabilised my wavering faith in four boys who, in the eyes of real life inbetweeners, portray what being young and unsure of who you are is like with breathtaking sincerity and accuracy.