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The Inbetweeners.

After receiving popular and critical acclaim upon it’s first airing on British television a few years ago, I began waiting for this comedy to finally be released on DVD here in the States. The impression I had was that while it was about high school, the show was for adults – using a mix of the intelligence of the American show Freaks & Geeks and the low brow humor of American Pie. I think the only reason the series did end up being released last month was sadly just to promote the American copycat which started airing on MTV recently, also called The Inbetweeners. I’ve tried that version, and honestly it’s not that bad, but after just a few episodes I found that the casting was it’s strongest suit and it was mostly just a carbon copy of the original. A bit too inspired you could say. The original however is fantastic. There’s something about how well balanced it is that makes it a rare, smart and brutally honest comedy, especially for television. The aforementioned Freaks & Geeks – as absolutely & blindingly brilliant as it is – always drifted to some varying degree of drama. The Inbetweeners never does. It always resides in a comedic world – yet still conveying an all too familiar period of youth and high school that both adults and kids can relate to. It definitely took quite a few episodes to warm up to the characters, but it’s well worth it. You have Will, the nerdy, twatty, yet charming leader of the pack, basically what amounts to a less pretentious Max Fischer (Rushmore). Simon, the good looking, anxious, aspiring ladies man with the Statue of Liberty hair. Jay, the cocky Liam Gallagher type who tells outlandish stories of debauchery to mask his insecurities and inabilities. And Neil, the tall, lanky, airheaded yet sweet and well-meaning boy bimbo who is achieving every social benchmark behind the scenes without effort due to his charm. They’re well written leads, and the show only got better as it went along due to the writing and the considerable sharpening of the lead actors comedic skills. And like most British television, they don’t overkill it – or “wear out it’s welcome” – with each series being just six episodes, and it peaking in quality on it’s third  – and final – series. I talk about the show mostly because the film is merely an extension of it – a 90 minute episode versus 30 minutes – and like many shows from back in the day that venture to a film, it involves (with a higher budget) a “going on vacation” plot making it feel like a raunchy version of sorts of something like The Facts of Life Goes to Paris, just replacing Paris with Malia, Greece. There is no important story arc that one would need to enjoy the film, but an appreciation of the characters from watching the television show would make it all the better if at all possible. The boys, just days after their final day of high school, attempt to paint the town of Malia red, but of course don’t fit in with the rambunctious spring break type crowds, thankfully. So they meet another group of 4 awkward kids, their female counterparts, and hilarity ensues throughout. In the end they all match up romantically with their equals, and it’s a fitting end to the stories of these boys and their suburban London misadventures. The only problem I had with the film was what they did with the character of Carli. In the series she is a cute and lovely girl, and she does remain so in the movie. As the object of Simon’s affection, his courtship of her is charming, and you can not only sympathize with what he sees in her, but they have you waiting for them to finally end up together. For whatever reason the writers build up the anticipation of such a resolution, only to do an about-face at the very end, turning Carli into an ugly, self-absorbed user. Her halo disappears within a matter of seconds, and despite there being an argument that it’s all completely and totally plausible (which it is), it was just, well, unfortunate to ruin a character who was charming and potentially grounding for Simon, only to throw her overboard for a temporary vacation dream girl. The one stain on a perfectly wonderful series and accompanying film that I highly recommend investing time into. I give both a combined review of 87 references to clunge. Quite fit, indeed!

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