The secret of bringing a comedy show to the big screen, particularly a sitcom, is just to extend a normal episode without creating anything too “silly.” You don’t need the central characters to suddenly become Prime Ministers or Pop Stars. The film should not be a “what if” opportunity because more often than not, you will water-down and destroy what made the sitcom so successful in the first place.
Countless other films have done exactly this. Kevin and Perry and Ali G are just two characters that were killed off when they were put into stories that didn’t reflect the original shows they came from. Alan Partridge got away with doing something slightly similar because the movie never felt bigger or bolder than the show. Luckily, the same can be said for The Inbetweeners Movie.
The Inbetweeners is a sitcom about four 17-18 year olds that are in-between the losers at school and the cool kids. They are supposed to reflect the majority of people, particularly lads of the ages mentioned. The sitcom was so successful because it did reflect the kind of behaviour, language and situations that people found themselves in at that age, even if some were on the more extreme and ridiculous side.
The movie doesn’t try to change anything but the setting and for a big screen outing, a lads holiday to Malia is a perfect set-up. It means the characters can be exactly the same as they were in the show without repeating any of the stories or situations we have already seen.
The show works because of the characters and how different they are but how perfectly they fit as a group. Simon Bird’s awkward Will narrates the movie, as he does the show, and his “matter-of-fact” view on life, the situations they are in and the holiday itself are perfectly out of touch. Joe Thomas nails the socially oblivious and lovesick teenager Simon, while James Buckley’s Jay is as obnoxious, filthy and full of “exaggeration” as he was in the original show.
If you had to choose the funniest character, Blake Harrison’s Neil is the perfect amount of stupid. He manages to add that one-liner to each scene that will steal the laugh and his interactions with “older ladies” throughout the movie make for some of the funnier moments. The highlight is early though, when we get a recreation of the famous “dance” from the sitcom.
It is a movie that takes its template from the sitcom. It knows what works and it helps that it is written by the shows creators. They manage to take the boys from one awkward, cringe inducing situation to another without it ever feeling forced or orchestrated. The tv show and the movie was never about the most outlandish of moments, just the quiet, calm but slowly building situations that may not have the biggest pay-off but will give you a laugh.
It’s also to the testament of the movie that it doesn’t end with too much of a neat conclusion. There is no real life lesson to be learnt. Each character doesn’t necessarily learn something about themselves rather than show why they have been so likable for three seasons of the sitcom. It does feel slightly easy towards the end, with an obvious conclusion to the lad’s stories, but it never becomes cheesy.
Overall, The Inbetweeners Movie is exactly how you should capture the magic of the tv show – with an extended episode. It doesn’t do anything drastically different with the characters. They do not save the world or become movie stars, they go on holiday and act in the awkward but hilarious way they have been doing throughout the three seasons of the tv show.
Rating – 4
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)