When The Inbetweeners was launched on E4 in 2008, it became something of a cult hit. Viewing figures were so strong for a non-terristrial channel that it was immediately commissioned for a second series and bumped up to Channel 4's main line-up. Its unique style of gross-out, car-crash comedy was compared to The Office but for the teenage market. After three series and steadily increasing viewing figures, it was finally announced that the story of main quartet of British sixth-form students and their irrepressible rage-filled headmaster, Mr. Gilbert would come to an end with a feature film.
After Simon (Joe Thomas) is dumped by his girlfriend Carli (Emily Head), his best friends Jay (James Buckley), Will (Simon Bird) and Neil (Blake Harrison) decide to go on a 'lad's holiday' to Malia in Crete looking for sun, sex, sand, booze and sex. Desperate to get drunk and have sex, the four friends meet four women who inexplicably like them. Everything comes to a head at the end of holiday boat party, where each inbetweener learns lessons in life, love, sex and friendship.
First thing to say about The Inbetweeners Movie is that it is not just Kevin and Perry Go Large. There are similarities, but those who feared that it would simply be a rehash will have their nerves calmed, as this resembles more of an American Pie but for British sensibilities. The dialogue is sharp and witty, just like the series and the escalating gross-out moments will not disappoint. But, like the series, this is not just comedy. The script aptly demonstrates the insanity of infatuation and the naivety of youth. In the small moments of character development, you can't help but remember the stupid things you did in your late-teenage years.
There are poignant moments that start to tug at the heart-strings, but each one is followed by an increasingly gross-out moment to keep the laughs coming. And my word do they come. Unlike other 'comedies' in 2011, This film will have you rolling in the aisles almost throughout the entire duration. Strangely though the biggest laughs come from the standout performer Simon Bird as nervous Will. Jay and Neil get the obvious laughs and Simon's character drives the plot, but it is Will's awkward charm that gives the film it's heart.
It is not without problems though. It's more an extended special episode than a 'film,' and the tired 'Brits abroad' jokes have been seen before. There's even some jokes that fans of the series will recognise from earlier episodes, but it is a nice farewell to characters that have become part of contemporary culture in Britain. Add to that the patchy plot that is stretched out longer than it should be and it's lack of stand-out ending moment and you will think that with some tweeking it could've been a lot more satisfying.
But there is no point dwelling on this problems, because at the end of the day, it is made with an eye on it's fans and they will not be disappointed. Suitably gross, hilarious and touching, The Inbetweeners Movie is the funniest film of 2011. You'll laugh, you'll cry with embarassment and in the end you'll mourn the passing of a truly hilarious group of characters. It's everything that a fan of the series could want.
Rating: * * * 1/2