If you’ve not seen the show you won’t be at a loss as how the group shapes up; Will is the eternal outcast, a public schoolboy thrust into the intimidating torrent of middle class education and given the name Briefcase Wanker early on, Simon is sick with love for his childhood crush (who breaks up with him after a doomed summer romance at the start of the film), Jay is an enthusiastic onanist whose outlandish boasts are as unlikely as his chances of getting his end away and Neil is the lovable idiot whose blind optimism is key to the group’s chief objective – to have actual sex with a real woman.
The group finish sixth form and jet off to Malia in search of sun, sex and that’s about it, and with a final send off from Mr Gilbert (Greg Davis’s sixth form tutor and all round hero to the teaching profession) the lads arrive to a cliché strewn holiday from hell. Terrible accommodation, pitiful bars and luckless nights on the prowl but slowly the story kicks in with the arrival of four girls, each one a perfect mirror for our boys. What follows isn’t subtle but the awkward courting of the female population of the island and the truly nasty depths to which the group fall foul are a lot of fun, and it is clear that the creative team behind the film are looking to do more than replicate the small screen experience while on holiday.
The crudity of the show is present in full force but it is the genuine love for the characters from writers Damon Beesley and Iain Morris which gives us a reason to care. The movie does feel like three episodes stitched together but that works in its favour as there’s not a moment wasted save for the obvious nods to the series’ more notorious elements – Neil’s dance, Jay’s snorkel, Will’s (now not so) absent father and Simon’s feckless heroism at the end.
Taking a successful TV series on holiday for a big screen incarnation is usually a warning sign that the bottom of the ideas barrel has been found and yet the four main characters are so reliably endearing that their foreign antics make for an entertaining hour and a half, and fans of the show will be pleased to see that several of the storylines from the three series are tied up nicely. It’s a fun film which meets its ambitions to not try anything new and despite the initial rebuff from the writers there’s talk of a sequel, and given the box office haul this is not surprising, and there’s a very good chance we’ll see another incarnation of the show in our future.