We’ve all been there before, in some way or other. Okay, maybe without the human faeces in our face, and without driving around in a car with Peter Andre’s face scrawled on the side, but the ordeals in The Inbetweeners 2 – and its wildly popular predecessors, the first movie and the three TV series – are ones that chime with our own. We’ve all been humiliated by our mates, been humiliated in front of the opposite sex, or merely have had humiliating, awkward – and funny – moments during adolescence. It’s more of the same from Will, Simon, Jay and Neil for Round 2, who can’t seem to get enough of them, and it’s largely great to watch them make fools of themselves one more time.
Our favourite fwends have been scattered since we last saw them, shooting into the farthest points of the world – most notably Bristol and Sheffield. During a get-together at Will’s university, where we discover that Briefcase hasn’t exactly been having the great time that we all expect when we first leave home and embark on a fresh, exciting new life on campus (a prank on a grand scale by Will’s uni ‘friends’ helping to set the scene there), he and the other assembled Inbetweeners decide to hop on a plane to the other side of the world; Jay, proving his lying gymnastics have only become more impressive with a message to the others, is living it up in Australia. He promises the others a loaded cocktail of eye-opening sexual experiences, mansions, and super models. Of course, they believe him – or at least partially, if only as a means to escape psycho girlfriends, alienation, and the general dreariness of England. Any of those are reason enough to eschew the smaller frame of the first film’s Malia and go full-on cinemascope for the Oz-set sequel.
The Inbetweeners 2 follows the template of the first film closely, and perhaps a little too closely for some. We know the drill; friendships are challenged, new ones are forged; there is poo, and even a little wee. But there’s no need for high concept in the context of The Inbetweeners, for there is also the same magic that made the group such a hit, and it delivers it in regular spadefuls. Even the gross-out moments (which actually rank among the funniest) will have you laughing through your own vomit, because even the film’s basest moments work around the chemistry between the four. There are even small nods to other genre-specific movies, but not outright imitated, which heighten the absurdity of particular moments and – systematically speaking – break them through from wince-chortling to cry-guffawing.
The Inbetweeners 2 is very funny. And that would be enough, but we empathise with these guys too much not to want them to come back to the big screen for at least one more time. If we don’t love them, then who will? Yes, there are narrative problems; yes, there is the feeling of treading over familiar dramatic ground. But once you watch the pool flume scene, you’ll realise that doesn’t matter here.