Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Inbetweeners Review

Ben Palmer’s “The Inbetweeners” is essentially a British version of “American Pie” in Europe. It’s about four friends who go on a wild and crazy sex and alcohol fueled trip. Except it’s British so that means there’s a whole new lingo. Instead of “vacation” they say “holiday,” instead of “hot” they say “fit.” You won’t hear any one call each other “bro” or “dude,” but “mate.” As with all of these kinds of movies, laughs are sure to be found, and the young (mostly male, but some female too) demographic that the film is made for should be mildly entertained at the very least. But at the same time, “The Inbetweeners” in the eyes of an American audience, isn’t anything they haven’t seen before. When I said, “British version” before, I should have said knockoff.

Stop me if these characterizations sound familiar: There’s Will McKenzie (Simon Bird), the super nerdy, annoying virgin; Jay Cartwright (James Buckley), the obnoxious, sex crazed one. Simon Cooper (Joe Thomas), the love sick, sensitive boy, who’s just been dumped by his long time girlfriend. And finally there’s Neil Sutherland (Blake Harrison), the weirdo of the group who seems to have a fetish for old ladies. Although, a general term to describe these four is…losers.

They’ve just graduated from high school, and before they go their own ways in life the four friends (or, since this is a British film I should say “lads”) decide to go on one final summer adventure together in Greece. What happens on the journey isn’t anything you wouldn’t expect coming from a movie like this. Most of the movie consists of the four lads, going around partying, trying to have sex but not being successful, making fools of themselves in public. They do at one point they meet a group of friendly girls. But all of the major plot points and realizations at the end, you can see coming from a mile away. Also, at a certain point the film becomes repetitive and it runs out of gas at the end.

The screenplay by Iain Morris and Damon Beesley contains the usual set of raunchy jokes. Jokes involving drugs, alcohol, sex, embarrassing parents, crazy locals, hangovers, pranks, etc. There’s even a scene where Jay gets caught masturbating by his parents. And the hotel that they stay at is dump, so the filmmakers get their money’s worth out of that joke department. Now I agree, there are some inspired bits here and there, but by and large it’s more of the same. In fact I would even say “The Inbetweeners” is just a tad cleaner (in content) than “American Pie” and “American Pie,” by today’s standards, is fairly tame. Sure, there are a few gross out gags; we do see a penis but it wasn’t nearly as shocking as I thought it would be.

All four of the young lads (OK, that’s the last time I’ll use it, I promise) do what’s expected of them in regards to performances but they don’t go beyond their originally drawn outlines. The film is based on a 2008 cult British television show of the same name and it’s easy to see why this would be popular in England. This is their native version of “American Pie.” I only watched one episode of the show before I lost interest but I would guess that if you watched it you’d probably get more out of the movie. You would have gotten to know the characters over a longer period and understand some of the non-American jokes (what few there are). But a movie has to stand on its own feet and as a movie alone “The Inbetweeners” offers a very mildly fun diversion, with nothing new to bring to the Teen Sex Comedy table.


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