The Inbetweeners, Jay, Will, Simon and Neil, the four amigos we first met in 2008 as luckless, feckless and largely sexless schoolboys, are back. And, although they’re now either at university or sort-of working, things haven’t really moved on. Simon, his low-rent angst hair-gelled to perfection by Joe Thomas, has been ensnared by an attractive fellow student who, having run out of bunnies to boil, has taken to cutting up Simon’s hoodies. Will, filled out by Simon Bird, remains prissy and friendless, and now living in Bristol. Blake Harrison’s Neil is still oblivious. And Jay, played to frothing perfection by James Buckley, the potty-mouthed, clunge-seeking star of the show, is still lying in the gutter, looking at the stars. Or, more accurately, working in a Sydney nightclub’s toilets, dreaming of a three-way with the Minogue sisters. And so, in want of anything better to do, Will, Simon and Neil head out to Sydney to reunite with Jay.
And thank the Lord they do, because The Inbetweeners 2 is a comic godsend. It isn’t just the TV sitcom version dragged out to three times its length. More than its predecessor, it feels like a film. The writers and now directors, Damon Beesley and Iain Morris, seem now to have the confidence to make use of filmic sequences, be it the striking three-minute visual pastiche of Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street, with Jay as a koala-punching, model-shagging Jordan Belfort, to the delightful flume sequence in which Will is pursued down a water slide by the produce of Neil’s ‘irritating bowels’.
Yes, it’s puerile at points. Yes, at others it’s downright filthy, as Jay would say. But it is also food-snorting-out-of-your-nose funny. Even the most tightly wound prig would struggle to stifle the laughter as Neil attempts to sate Simon’s thirst, or as Jay celebrates Will’s nearby sexual congress with a hand shandy. Slapstick has rarely come coated in so many different bodily fluids.
Yet, while those scenes will undoubtedly receive the plaudits (and brickbats), the beating heart of The Inbetweeners has always been the machine-gunned dialogue, with insults and crudities exchanged at memory-defying speed. There’s an exquisite mockery of ‘banter’ at one point; there are the throwaway lines about Neil’s absent mum and his ‘bumming’ dad; and there are the brutal exchanges with Jay’s Australian uncle, a man determined to ram what remains of Jay’s esteem into the suspiciously holed ground.
It’s between the four stars that the dialogue is at its keenest, though. Relentlessly cruel, with no insecurity left unexploited, it is often ferociously un-PC - especially when it comes to sex. One vein that was only occasionally mined in the TV series is the accusation of paedophilia, which, thanks to Jay, ends up with Simon being duffed-up in Splashland. It’s not clever, but it is funny. And, in today’s child-abuse obsessed climate, it does involve a certain amount of risk-taking.