Thursday, October 11, 2012

I’ve briefly spoken here about the Inbetweeners, a British television series that ran for three seasons (in the British sense in that each series consisted of just 6 episodes). When I first stumbled across the series a few years ago, I thought it was one of the raunchiest—but funniest—shows I’d seen in awhile. I believe the show was largely inspired by the American Pie films. Indeed, I have described it to friends as “like American Pie, but funny.” It’s also not to be confused with the new Americanized adaptation of the show on MTV.

The Inbetweeners features four clueless high school students (or at least the equivalent of high school students in Great Britain, which has its own unique school system), who of course are preoccupied with girls, getting laid, and being cool. What makes the show so winning is the well-defined personalities of the characters and their chemistry with each other. The four leads include Will (actor Simon Bird), the private school refugee whose story kicks off the series when he is forced to go to public school after his parents divorce; Simon (Joe Thomas), who eventually becomes best mates with Will and who carries the torch for his gorgeous next door neighbor Carli, who is oblivious to his feelings; cocksure Jay (James Buckley), who constantly talks in explicit detail about his sexcapades that obviously never happened; and easy-going but thick-as-a-brick Neil (Blake Harrison) who is the epitome of “ignorance is bliss” but appears to have actually experienced success with girls though he never thinks to mention it despite everyone else’s obsession.

Below: A clip from the film.

As I mentioned, the show is incredibly raunchy and explicit. But also hilarious. Episodes have featured at least two instances of graphic projectile vomiting, and one instance of full frontal male nudity and one episode that prominently featured one of the character’s testicles in full view. Indeed, when I first watched the show, I wondered what the child laws in Britain were like before I confirmed the leads were all over 21.

I was excited to hear about the film’s release in the U.S.—as an indication of its popularity in Great Britain, the movie made news for giving the last Harry Potter film a run for its money at the box office.

Some of the advance reviews of the film in Great Britain seemed to express disappointment with the movie, so I wondered if it was a matter of a half-hour comedy show not translating well to a full-length feature. In keeping with its American inspiration, the film follows the lads to their last hurrah after graduation as they take a spring break-like trip to Malia in Greece, which like, Palm Springs in the U.S., apparently is a beach mecca for college-age partiers.

After seeing the film, however, I’m not sure what those critics were talking about—I found the film as funny as the show. And though the show’s creators worked to ensure there was a true story arc in the film—and they received kudos for introducing female characters who were more than just eye candy and window dressing—they didn’t lose sight of the goal to keep it funny and raunchy, and put the characters in as many humiliating situations as possible. In fact, the film ends as a nice coda to the series.

The film works fine without having seen the show, but probably ultimately works better for those who are fans and are familiar with the series. So, if you’re so inclined (keeping aware of the very hard-R content), I encourage you to shoot over to YouTube where the series is actually available in its entirety, as well as Netflix streaming where it has just become available.

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