It's hard to decide at which stage in the viewing process that I realised seeing The Inbetweeners 2 was a terrible mistake, but if I had to narrow it down to a single moment it would probably be when Will (Simon Bird) projectile vomited in a public swimming pool, his face covered in sh*t, while Albinoni's Adagio in G Minor played.
OPINION: That, or seeing one of my favourite Australian actors, David Field, have to say the line "That's as soppy as the last thing I had my dick in."
Yes, I went to The Inbetweeners 2 on opening day and all I got was this sense of crippling ennui and desire to eat a McFeast as quickly as possible afterwards as though it might soak up the memory of the past hour-and-a-half of unfunny dreck.
I'm always up for (as it were) a good sex comedy, but as each knob joke, minge anecdote and gay panic gag in The Inbetweeners 2 fell flatter than the last - within the first 15 minutes - the hope that writer/directors (and series creators) Damon Beesley and Iain Morris had any aces up their sleeves grew as dim as pitch.
The sequel to The Inbetweeners Movie finds the awkward foursome on holiday in Australia, where Jay (James Buckley) has decamped to chase his ex. So there are plenty of chances to chuck in some true-blue moments of sexism, homophobia, animal cruelty, transphobia, classism, and just for good measure, a handful of pedophilia and rape jokes so bleak it makes you wonder how they made it past the first script edit.
There are moments of good natured humour - primarily to do with male friendship, growing up, and the awkwardness of sexual awakening - but they are without exception immediately waylaid by yet more d*ck jokes. To say nothing of the heartwarming "Fs" that characterise Jay & Co's approach to women: "Find 'em, friend 'em, french 'em, finger 'em, film 'em, fist 'em, felch 'em, f*ck 'em, forget 'em." From the word go, it was such a parade of witless inanities that the final note I took, roughly seven minutes in, was "a dog is licking Neil's balls" because my brain had begun to atrophy.
Towards the end of the film, as our heroes found themselves stranded somewhere on the Birdsville Track, I found myself hoping for an Australian new wave-referencing, Wake In Fright-meets-The Cars That Ate Paris denouement in which they would lose at two-up and then be mown down by a souped-up VW Bug.
Alas, I did not get my wish, and the film saw itself out precisely as it had introduced itself: with a bunch of jokes about minge and d*cks and a mind-blowingly transphobic credits sequence set as the lads travel across South East Asia that made The Hangover Part II look more sensitive than Albert Nobbs.
Before you go accusing me of having a feminist block on films about male adolescence, Superbad is one of my favourite films and I once spent an afternoon watching Losin' It in segments on YouTube (that, I can assure you, is true commitment to the coming-of-age cause).
Indeed, one of the chief disappointments of The Inbetweeners 2 is that what could have been a deft exploration of the continued sexual frustrations of social outcasts turned out to be a 96-minute-long bore, jam packed with tone-deaf jokes about clunge.
After all, who is the target audience for this film? Teenage boys? I expect any irony intended in depicting Jay and his mates' witless approach to women will be lost on gangs of 15-year-olds, who'll instead just think the parade of bikini bodies and gags about getting your d*ck wet is well wicked.
I'm not alone in this: when even The Daily Mail decries your film as misogynist, something is rotten in the state of coming-of-age comedy. In his review, the Mail's film critic Brian Viner said, "The misogyny is the most worrying aspect of all. From girls of their own age to their friends' mothers, these four men have no respect whatsoever for the opposite gender, seeing every female merely as ripe for sex."
Proper publications followed suit. At The Guardian, Jonathan Romney described the film's main concerns as, "fountainous poo, pee and puke, rampant misogyny, 'ironic' rampant misogyny, rampant 'irony', and that old Carry On staple, horror of sex (especially among the over-25s)." Time Out's Tom Huddleston decried the film as "riddled with contempt: for its characters, for its audience and most notably for the entire female gender. That a film in 2014 can still get away with depicting all women as either dumb, hapless sluts or ball-busting harridans is frankly unbelievable."
Despite (or, in a scenario so depressing it doesn't bear considering, because of) all this, the flick surpassed Transformers: Age Of Extinction to snare the UK's biggest opening weekend of 2014. And at the Independent, remarkably, Robbie Collin doled out four stars and said, "Perhaps the biggest compliment you could pay the film, apart from that it's by and large hysterically funny, is that it is unmistakably film-like."
Well, you're right on one front, Robbie, it's certainly film-like, in that I saw it in a cinema and it appeared to have been released by a film distributor. But aside from that, it shares about as much in common with quality cinema as a dog turd picked up with a discarded page from Loaded magazine.
- Daily Life