Sunday, September 9, 2012

Review: The Inbetweeners Movie

There have been a lot of comedies this year. Some good (The Campaign) some bad (Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie), some I haven’t seen yet (Ted), some I don’t want to see (That’s My Boy). But, even though it’s not going to be on my best of the year, I’d have to say that The Inbetweeners is probably going to be my favorite comedy of the year, partially because British comedy appeals to me but also because it’s just plain fucking HYSTERICAL.

Based on a British tv show that I, for once, actually have watched a bit of, The Inbetweeners can best be thought of as a British reboot of Revenge of the Nerds. Four awkward, nebbish British teenagers have just graduated from high school and are looking to have a good time while on holiday in Greece. Role call: The weird one, the smart one, the lovesick one and the horny one. While they’re there they meet four girls, also from Britain and you can pretty much plot the movie from there.

Okay so it’s not the most unique or inventive setup imaginable, but it makes up for it in the details, most notably a sharply written script and great chemistry between the four leads. The horny character (named Jay, for the record) in particular is a fantastic character, a shockingly nasty and occasionally downright awful person, but with the odd glimmer humanity showing through occasionally. There’s also some great lead work from the main character/narrator, who’s deadpan narration adds a lot to simple sight gags.

It’s also worth pointing out that the movie is extremely British, both in it’s sensibilities (hard to quantify) and in it’s language use (much easier). It’s an extremely filthy movie, but without ever falling into the disgusting or tasteless trap, which is a hard line to walk, and they walk it with style. It’s also interesting how the movie seems to be much more comfortable with male nudity than it is with female nudity, although I don’t know if that’s a British thing or not.

The movie is not without it’s flaws, mostly on the purely structural level (at least one character lacks anything resembling an arc, but that’s sort of acceptable in a comedy as broad as this, and there are a few callbacks to the show that I imagine will be lost on people who haven’t watched it), but I’m not overly interested in talking about that. What I am interested in talking about is the across-the-pond attempt at an American TV show that originally brought the series to my attention. This is getting alarmingly common, after The Office first hit and made everyone involved rich and famous, but has fallen intensely flat with every other attempt (looking at you Skins). In this case, I’m not ENTIRELY opposed, as the idea of Porky’s meets suburban ennui is one that could easily translate to America, but having given the show a glance, I just have to say it doesn’t have an identity of it’s own. Maybe that will change when they run out of episodes of the original show to copy (the original show has a limited number of episodes, as most British shows do), but right now it’s just an irritating copy that adds nothing to an idea that worked fine on it’s own, like the American remake of Let the Right One In. Wow, that was a long rant eh? Let’s bring it home.

In the end, this is a hard movie to review for the same reasons that all good comedies are: If I talk about what makes it funny, I’ll spoil the jokes. So I’ll just tell you that this movie is easily one of, if not the, funniest movie of the year. If you enjoy comedy in general and British comedy in particular, then you’ll definitely want to check this one out.

Elessar is a 22 year old Alaskan born cinephile and he’d like to see a spinoff devoted to Will’s dad. Because he’s played by Giles. And Giles is awesome.

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