The transition from the small screen to the silver screen is usually a rough one. Complaints of the film feeling like an elongated episode or not having enough material to warrant a film adaptation abound. Luckily, for writers Iain Morris and Damon Beesley, as well as director Ben Palmer, nobody can accuse The Inbetweeners Movie of this fatal flaw. Quite the contrary, the characters feel as if they were made for the big screen, complete with enough charm and witticisms to entertain the audience with just enough unfortunate idiosyncrasies that might get obnoxious over a longer period of time. No, instead, The Inbetweeners Movie is fully aware of what it is and what it’s audience wants and manages to play to its strengths with equal amounts beguiling wit and crass humor.
After all, despite its fully capable cast, the real star of The Inbetweeners Movie is the sense of humor. The film puts its best foot forward, starting off strong. Buffy fans will certainly enjoy Giles’ cameo as the criminally negligent father of Will, but it’s more than that. The Inbetweeners Movie, in its first few minutes, showcases the kind of sharp-tongued wit we’ve come to expect from such great writers as Nick Hornby or Stephen Chbosky. Within the first five minutes Will, the film’s narrator and protagonist, establishes himself as the acerbic voice of a generation, a champion of the downtrodden, and an undeniable intellectual force to be reckoned with. As the film progresses, it loses a bit of its edge, which is somewhat to be expected, but it never loses its sense of self.
This is truly remarkable when you factor in that the film features four main characters. Aside from the unconventional Will, there is perpetual virgin Jay, lovesick Simon, and charmingly idiotic Neil. Honestly, there isn’t a whole lot of depth to them, but there is enough surface charm and a fair amount of charisma to keep even a minimal investment in their individual storylines. None of them demand too much attention, but the fact that The Inbetweeners Movie is able to give equal attention to each of its characters is a testament to the writing. Far too frequently characters will fall off half through a movie, only to return for a tidy conclusion, but The Inbetweeners Movie takes each of its characters as seriously as a comedy like this can.
Unfortunately, the multiple storylines, while entertaining, are also part of the downfall of the movie. As the movie comes to its inevitable close, the movie has to resolve four individual plotlines. While this is fine in theory, it is incredibly difficult to sustain the third act momentum required to give everyone their happy endings. Neil’s is simple enough, probably due to his simple-minded nature, but the others require a fair amount of effort and time before the end. It is by no means a fault of the film, but compared to the quick energy that marks the beginning of the film, the ending feels somewhat sluggish. However, it all pays off to see each of these characters get what they truly deserve, in typical movie fashion.
The Inbetweeners Movie is by no means a landmark in film. It doesn’t take too many risks in terms of storytelling or even technical innovation, but that’s more than okay. What we’re left with is a charming, if not predictable, piece of British humor. Deftly balancing the kind of tight writing and acerbic wit many have come to associate with British humor with lowbrow toilet humor, The Inbetweeners Movie is an exemplary comedy. While safe in its crudeness, the overwhelming heart of its protagonists makes The Inbetweeners Movie, at the very least, worth a laugh.