The Inbetweeners 2

Australia becomes the unlucky country in The Inbetweeners 2, getting its biggest ribbing since The Simpsons invaded our shores. (Sure, Wolf Creek 2 did some decent damage to the Aussie image earlier this year, but it always stings a little extra when the digs are coming from outsiders, and especially, in this instance, the Poms.) Based on the hit series of the same name (well, minus the ‘2’), it sees the quartet of eponymous British horndogs getting into all kinds of awkward situations at our hostels, water parks, and, inevitably, the outback, throwing a few elbows in the direction of our embarrassing local icons (dreadlocked bogans, beer-bellied racists, Sydney DJs). If anyone took offence to that time Bart mooned our parliament, they may want to excuse themselves from the rest of this review. (Full disclosure: I boycotted The Simpsons for six months after ‘Bart vs. Australia’ aired, before coming to my senses. In my defence, I hadn’t fully grasped satire yet, as I was seven.)

No longer stuck in high school and either recently dumped or desperately trying to get away from their girlfriends, Will (Simon Bird), Simon (Joe Thomas) and Neil (Blake Harrison) decide to follow in the footsteps of Jay (James Buckley) and join his supposedly sex-filled gap year in Oz. When they surprise him in Byron Bay, they discover he’s actually just handing out soap in a nightclub’s restroom and not, as he had promised, enjoying nightly orgies with “the Minogues”. But Jay, a pathological liar with a predilection for wedging horrifying single entendres into every sentence, was right about one thing: being in a different country allows unlucky-in-love-and-everything-else losers a chance to rebrand. Geek-without-shame Will embraces the idea, promoting himself to the gadabout backpacker Katie (Emily Berrington) as a true man of the world. Of course, us viewers know him all too well: Will can barely prove he’s a man, let alone one of the world.

The Inbetweeners 2

I closed my review of The Inbetweeners Movie claiming it’ll be “unlikely we’ll see a sequel.” Needless to say, I won’t be taking Nate Silver’s prognosticating job anytime soon. One of the highest grossing comedies in U.K. history, a follow-up was swiftly ordered by audiences, and it arrives three years later with a change in location and little else. The boys are trapped in amber; in a plot that goes nowhere and an emotional state that remains fixed to their teenage years. Writer-directors Damon Beesley and Iain Morris would argue that’s the whole point of being an inbetweener: actually being stuck between teenagerdom and adulthood. It’s a good argument. It doesn’t keep The Inbetweeners 2 from seeming like more of the same.

However, fans of the show will agree “more of the same” is exactly what they’re after. Bird remains a droll straight man, while Harrison and Buckley are unrepentantly, and delightfully, disgusting. The also-amusing Thomas sometimes feels like a spare appendage – a second straight man, usually defined by his girlfriend, in this instance, the sociopathic Lucy (Tamla Kari) – though I suspect that’s because Beesley and Morris force him, in particular, to repeat the same storyline over and over again. His thread is the most unfortunate too, its big joke being his girlfriend is ca-razy. In the last film, Tamla Kari appeared perfectly sweet. Here: she’s one boiled bunny rabbit shy of being Glenn Close. Used to be the blame for embarrassing situations lay solely at the feet of our four heroes.

Their introspective edge sanded down until it resembles a Ken doll’s genitals, it might be time for the gang to call it a day after The Inbetweeners 2, which is slightly more insensitive to its female leads than previous efforts. At least they prove here they can still be very funny on occasion. One set piece involving a rogue piece of faecal matter gathering speed behind Will in a water slide challenges Caddyshack for the mantle of ‘Best Ever S*** in Water’ gag.