A film review of ‘The Inbetweeners Movie’
By Jan Prchal, Columnist
Continuing with the outrageous, juvenile humour that made the TV series so popular, The Inbetweeners Movie (2011) takes Britain’s most suburban chumps on vacation to Malta, where they aspire to behave like stereotypical “lads-on-tour.”
The film wastes little time in reminding the viewer of the main characters’ signature features, while also introducing some new ones. Will is shown being mocked by his father, a character introduced in this film. Jay is caught masturbating by his mother… again. Simon gets his heart torn out by Carly… again. And Neil is shown still being a total moron who somehow manages to be more successful with women than all his friends combined.
An early scene that highlights the friendship’s dynamics is when Simon’s three friends try to figure out how to comfort Simon about his breakup. First, they stare at each other awkwardly, and then eventually try to come up with questionably helpful—and certainly self-serving—ways of helping him get over his breakup.
It should be noted that the humour in this film is heavily targeted towards a male audience. The Inbetweeners TV series played heavily on lad culture, the British sub-culture of middle-class males engaging in drunken behaviour, sexism, and anti-intellectualism. This is evident throughout the film, with phallic jokes, cussing, and heavy intoxication. The individual characters’ plotlines revolve around dealing with relationships, in the case of Neil and Simon, or trying to lose their virginities, in the case of Jay and Will.
What this film adds to the staple Inbetweeners “lad” humour is the vacation. Much like the stereotype of the “ugly American,” the stereotype of lads abroad involves people behaving badly due to being in foreign countries. British lads, specifically, have acquired something of a reputation for outrageous behaviour in Southern Europe. This film coins the term “lads-on-tour.”
The film directly confronts this sub-culture in one of its earliest sequences. The main characters—aspiring lads—meet some older and far more committed lads—dedicated British football fans—as soon as they board the bus to their accommodations in Crete. Playing with the title of the series and the film, the protagonists are only wannabe lads, or in-between being boys and lads, because they are too young and lacking in self-confidence to engage in truly outrageous behaviour. Their attempt to live up to such an unworthy ideal makes the film only more amusing.
In sum, The Inbetweeners Movie successfully creates a humorous storyline of the popular TV series’ protagonists going on vacation, where almost everything that can go wrong, does go wrong. The lad culture, with its foul language, drunken behaviour, and occasional sexism and racism, is amped up by the foreign setting. The film knows who its audience is, and it targets this audience with a successful comedic package.