Sunday 23 November 2014

The Inbetweeners 2 (16) review: 'Intermittently hilarious and unremittingly crude'

Published 08/08/2014 | 10:20

(Left to right) Simon Bird, Blake Harrison, Emily Berrington, Joe Thomas and James Buckley attending the premiere of new film The Inbetweeners 2 at the Vue Cinema in London. Photo: PA
(Left to right) Simon Bird, Blake Harrison, Emily Berrington, Joe Thomas and James Buckley attending the premiere of new film The Inbetweeners 2 at the Vue Cinema in London. Photo: PA

Directed by Damon Beesley, Iain Morris, 91 mins, starring: Simon Bird, Joe Thomas, James Buckley, Blake Harrison, Emily Berrington, Freddie Stroma

Lads’ mags may have fallen out of fashion but the spirit of Nuts and Loaded lives on in this cheery, intermittently hilarious and unremittingly crude sequel to the 2011 box-office hit .

The boys - who are actually now young men -  head to Australia (“the sex capital of the world”) where Jay (Buckley) is on a gap year.

No pun is too crude for writer-directors Beesley and Morris. The jokes about what happens “down under” don’t take long in coming. The film has barely started when we are treated to a shot of Neil’s dangling testicles as he plays pool in a mini-skirt.

The comic gambits include a scene in a water park which pays tribute to the notorious turd in a swimming pool sequence in Caddyshack, a grim moment in which one friend drinks another’s urine in a bid to avoid dying of thirst after becoming stranded in the outback, and a strange interlude in which Neil feeds junk food to a dolphin

Much of the charm of the original TV series lay in the fact that the four friends were “inbetweeners,” perched between adolescence and adulthood. There was a naiveté about them that helped atone for their excesses.

It’s a testament to the likability and comic ability of the four actors that this charm and innocence remains largely intact although now they are student age. It helps, too, that the story, even at its most extreme, is rooted in experiences that always have at least a grain of reality in them.

When Jay’s bottom lip quivers as he tried to fight back tears or Simon looks on in dismay as he watches his girlfriend on Skype shred his hoodies, we really feel for them.

We can’t help but root for the cerebral, rational,and always bound to be humiliated Will (Bird)as he struggles to impress the beautiful Katie (Emily Berrington) by serenading her in excruciating fashion.

The four friends follow in a tradition of goofy British comedy about loveable losers that stretches back to Will Hay and the Crazy Gang.

Some of the ideas are feeble. The early fantasy sequence in which we see Jay living a life of sex-filled luxury plays like a bad spoof of The Wolf Of Wall Street. (The reality, we quickly discover, is that he is a toilet attendant who lives in a tent.)

The clichés about Australia are trotted out in a way that might have made even Barry Mackenzie blush.  For every dud scene, though, there are always one or two that play out perfectly.

This is a comedy works by a process of attrition. When one gag fails, another immediately follows it until, eventually, the film hits the funny bone.

Damon Beesley, Iain Morris, 91 mins, starring: Simon Bird, Joe Thomas, James Buckley, Blake Harrison, Emily Berrington, Freddie Stroma

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