(Ben Palmer, 2011)
As if in an acknowledgement of just how contrived it is to make a movie from a successful tv sitcom, The Inbetweeners Movie pulls the lamest, most predictable and cliched movie-of-a-tv-show trick possible; it sends its principal characters on holiday.
That contrivance - and the couple of plot contortions required to ensure some of the shows narrative lines are maintained in the film - aside, the film plays just like a longer episode of series. That means that it finds comedy in the universal condition of teenaged life, in the angst and humiliation of every day as a geeky adolescent boy. Many of the laughs are obvious - two of the bigger gags involve a shot of a huge turd and a dance scene where the dancers ineptitude is entirely the point - but no less funny for all that. And the humour here is varied. Much of it may be crude and crass, but there are also the usual cleverly witty exchanges between the boys, some excruciating comedy of embarrassment (that may actually be the dominant mode here), and a few great sight gags.
The most obvious criticism of the film is the treatment of it's female characters, who exist here only to play off the boys, though the counterpart of Will (Simon Bird) is just as clever and confident as he is, even if the film hamstrings her with a cheating Greek waiter for a boyfriend, and the boys are portrayed throughout as hopeless and barely socially or emotionally functional, enriched and improved by the company of the girls.
The great strength of the series has always been its unmistakable ring of truth. The relationship between the boys resonates because it feels so familiar and right, the bizarre dynamic of aggression, need and belonging painfully close to teenage friendships many people have. It also captures the warmth of such friendship, and the joy of youth and freedom in an authentic, low-key manner beyond the glossiness of most American teen comedies. Here that warmth is brought to the fore as the presence of the girls seems to give the film a slightly sweeter sensibility, aided by the fact that this "final installment" demands a happy ending.
But mainly, just like the tv series, it's funny. Really really funny.