The Inbetweeners 2 (MA15+)
Simon Bird, Joe Thomas, James Buckley, Blake Harrison
DIRECTORS DAMON BEESLEY, IAIN MORRIS
REVIEW SUE YEAP
3 & a half stars
While young Aussies appear to be staying away in droves from locally made movies pitched at their demographic, the opposite appears to be happening in the UK.
The Inbetweeners 2 had the biggest opening weekend of the year at the UK box office, meaning it's not just teens and 20-somethings flocking to see the latest misadventures of the four former Rudge Park Comprehensive students but a whole lot of older moviegoers as well.
The Inbetweeners TV series was one of the funniest British comedies of the past decade and despite the crass humour and foul language, clearly has broad appeal because last time I looked, I wasn't a hormonal teenage boy.
Set several months after their coming-of-age adventures in Crete in the first film, the sequel sees Will (Simon Bird) at uni with no mates, Simon (Joe Thomas) at uni with a possessive girlfriend who cuts up his clothes and Neil (Blake Harrison) working in a bank and missing larrikin big-noter Jay (James Buckley).
After Neil reads an email from Jay where he boasts about his "mental gap year" in Sydney having lots of sex, DJ-ing at a nightclub and punching koalas, the lads decide they need a holiday Down Under.
On arriving in Sydney, lovable dimwit Neil is freaked out by the Opera House and hopes standing on the spot will stop his mobile phone roaming charges.
Bragaholic Jay's claims of living in a mansion surrounded by scantily clad babes who service his every sexual fantasy soon come unravelled. The truth is somewhat less glamorous; Jay is a toilet attendant living in a tent in the front yard of his Uncle Bryan (a rabidly amusing David Field).
After bumping into his childhood crush Katie (Emily Berrington), Will convinces the lads to head to Byron Bay where they encounter assorted trust- fund travellers claiming to have embraced spirituality.
Some of the gags from three seasons of the TV show continue in the film, including Neil's obsession with Will's mum's breasts and Jay's penchant for wild exaggeration.
Field aside, most of the Aussie characters are of limited interest and two-dimensional, especially the couple Will meets in Byron Bay at a night of throwing negative thoughts on a camp fire.
One of the reasons the film succeeds is the characters are half a world away from home - it was filmed in Australia last year - but they don't stray too far from their endearing, hapless TV personas. If these friends have any hope of getting lucky there's going to be lot of humiliation, pain and genital exposure first.
Even bragaholic Jay, who has a secret motive for agreeing to head to the theme park Splash Planet, loses his bravado and develops a trembling lip when he talks about breaking up with his girlfriend Jane, leading to his move to Sydney.
Will as always is the butt of most jokes, from the travel belt sight gag to the repulsive but hilarious water park scene that has become the film's talking point (in alarming news from the UK, this revolting scene has sparked a wave of people deliberating doing number twos in public pools).
When the lads leave Will in Byron to head for the outback, it's up to Neil to try to recall Bear Grylls survival tips when they become stranded without food and water.
Creators-turned-directors Iain Morris and Damon Beesley have kept at the heart of the film the awkward but enduring friendship that has grown since outsider Will ingratiated himself with the other three at high school. They've still got some growing up to do but haven't quite outgrown each other, yet.
While the ending feels a little rushed and unsatisfying, it is compensated for by the silly credits, featuring a post-Australia montage of the lads' dodgy travels through Asia.