Director: Damon Beesley & Ian Morris
Within seconds, it's clear that The Inbetweeners 2 had been given one hell of a bigger budget. With a CGI-laden opening and long sequences of pricey running gags, with a few large set-piece vistas thrown in for good measure, the box office returns of the first film clearly inflated the producers' faith in the comedy series. Fortunately, the source material (and new material) is strong enough to justify their investment. The characters are everymen; relatable, fun and almost adorable, the boys' antics toe the fine line between absurdity and sheer fecklessness with confidence, daring to push the jokes further than they ever have before. With a combination of great writing and a commitment to some stark gross-out sight gags, the stakes are higher, while these characters remain true to the people we saw grow up on TV.
The Inbetweeners Movie took the gang on a lads' Mediterranean booze-binge, but this film takes you in a different direction. Travellers and gap year students are a topic easy to satirise, but hinging the majority of the film around their pretention and egos was an idea that really paid off. One of the girls they encounter quite succinctly acknowledges all the reasons why people might find travellers ludicrous, seemingly self-aware and objective about their appearance to outsiders. But despite being clearly well educated and socially evolved in the way the boys are not, she is completely oblivious that people might find them all (and their culture) painfully annoying. Despite all the boys' faults and blatant inability to do anything but make tits of themselves, we really find ourselves mocking the people they see as "cooler" than them. The Inbetweeners always celebrated normality and awkwardness in a way that other comedies might seek to mock them, which is probably why so many people love the boys still. While we laugh at them, we also know that they are far more attuned to real life than all the other more "aspirational" characters who wander through the frame.
For its filmic quality, The Inbetweeners 2 does little to stand out of the crowd, but it's commitment to their original formula makes it compelling viewing. Good comedy is few and far between nowadays and I've not laughed that much in a long time. As long as you can see yourselves in the characters, this is worth the 90 minutes of your time. Profoundly British as it may be, growing up is something we all can relate to, so why not cash in a little on tremendously funny writing and characters we all love? Regardless of what the actors say, I'm sure there'll be a third film. And I'll be there in the cinema again, for sure!