The original Inbetweeners Movie (2011) surprised both critics and audiences alike with its financial success. The big screen version of British TV series accumulated an estimated £45m at the UK box office, all but assuring a sequel. Low and behold, three years later and the foursome – now a little older but none the wiser – are back for The Inbetweeners 2 (2014), a sequel that’s solidly entertaining, even if it does reek of fatigue. In desperate need of an escape from their monotonous lives, Will (Simon Bird), Simon (Joe Thomas) and Neil (Blake Harrison) decide to splurge all their student loans and savings to visit Jay (James Buckley), who claims to be having the time of his life in Australia.
Not long after their arrival, however, the reality of Jay’s seemingly idyllic life proves to be very different, and the boys are forced to do what they can to make the best of a bad situation. There’s nothing particularly inspiring about The Inbetweeners 2, and the now well-worn formula of rapid-fire gags, cringeworthy scenarios and vulgar interplay between characters is unlikely to win over any new fans – and may even start to irritate even the most loyal of aficionados. Yet there’s undoubtedly humour to be had, particularly in the way the four leads handle the material. A few of the films more hilarious moments include a water slide incident involving Will and large amount of human excrement, Neil’s run-in with a dolphin and Jay’s various unsuccessful attempts at breaking up with his girlfriend via Skype.
It helps massively that the screenwriters – Damon Beesley and Iain Morris, who also jointly occupy the directors’ chair this time around – base much of the hilarity on real-life situations, rather than absurdist make-believe. The actors’ comic timing is crucial in making the audience laugh, but there needs to be the material there in the first place – and it’s mostly all there, aside from a couple of misfires. For a film that stretches its initial concept of four boys navigating one of the most horribly awkward periods of their lives to the extreme, The Inbetweeners 2 treads a very thin line – and only just sticks to the right side of it. The ending, in which the group are stuck in the outback, seems to suggest that the boys have finally reached the height of their own maturation, ready for the next phase of their own individual lives. If the creators have any sense, they’ll know this is the right time to end this series. Passingly amusing, adequately performed and fast-paced enough to hold anyone’s attention, yes, but The Inbetweeners 2 also proves that there’s an endpoint to every franchise.