The Inbetweeners get naked in the heat

MICHELLE DUFF
Last updated 15:26 02/09/2014
inbetweeners 2
Roadshow Films

THEY'RE BACK: The Inbetweeners are back for a second round and this time they are in Australia.

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It's amazing how, if you have to re-shoot a scene naked enough times, it just becomes a chore.

That's what Simon Bird and Joe Thomas, two of the four main characters on The Inbetweeners 2, are trying to convince me of, anyway.

''Basically everything becomes a piece of work, and if you do something 50 times it just becomes another piece of action and words you have to do over and over again,'' says Thomas, of filming one of the many cringeworthy moments in the latest movie. (Hint: it involves an appendage.)

It is not as easy as you might think getting the best angle in frame - especially in 50 degree heat in the South Australian desert, he explains.

''It's weird, a lot of The Inbetweeners is trying to get something that's quite gross but weirdly technical. So there's lots of moments where you're trying to do something gross but the filming of it is very calculated.''

Bird leans in. ''I don't think we get embarrassed filming that stuff because we hope it's going to be funny in the long run. So it's never as cringy for us as it is for the characters, or the people watching it.''

Bird and Thomas have been playing the characters of Will and Simon since 2008, when The Inbetweeners television series began it's run in the UK. They are two in a gang of hopeless, hormonal teenagers that also includes Jay (James Buckley) and Neil (Blake Sutherland).

The series, which follows the teens through mishaps and failed sexual encounters, gained a cult following which has since led to two films.

The 2011 The Inbetweeners Movie was the biggest British comedy film ever, and was popular down here too - grossing $9.2 million in the Australian box office and just over $1m on this side of the Tasman.

Bird, Thomas and director and co-creator Iain Morris were in New Zealand and Australia (which Thomas quaintly refers to as ''the antipodes'') promoting the latest installment when I caught up with them.

Morris, who wrote the script for the first series with Damon Beesley in 2004, said the film was sort of a last hurrah to The Inbetweeners . In it, the four guys meet up in Australia, after Jay promises them Kylie Minogue-like ladies will be falling at their feet.

Morris said he and Beesley wanted to capture the awkward transitional period in a guy's life - when they are unsure of themselves and desperately trying to impress their friends.

The writers, who were producers on the first film, took the helm as directors on the second installment - which made it difficult to get any work done at times, Bird said. ''We were undermining them at every turn.''

''I think it was the most fun we've had filming,'' Thomas said.

''For the first film and the TV series they were part of our gang really. This time because they were the directors there was no-one to tell us off anymore. So there was a lot of mucking round, a lot if it at their expense.''

Morris was inspired to set the story in Australia following a student exchange there as a teenager. The country has long been a haven for the backpacking British, and he conducted his own reconnaissance mission before the film - staying in hostels on the Gold Coast, Byron Bay and Brisbane.

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Filming took place in the isolated Outback town of Marree, South Australia, where the cast and crew  ''pretty much doubled the population,'' he said. Desert hijinks ensued.

''It was the hottest I've ever been, it was 50 degrees, obviously there's no internet out there, no phone siguals,'' Thomas said.

''I think people think we want to go and have lads' nights out all the time, but it felt a bit like a retreat. It was a bit like a spa really, a sauna, you had to move really slowly. The only thing alive out there apart from us were the flies.''

Thomas said the guys shared some similarities with the characters, if slightly exaggerated for effect.

''There's overlap, obviously. My character is relatively normal, he's awkward and he's a doomed romantic but these things are pretty normal for a teenage boy. So I just try to channel the most pathetic I've ever been really, and to be honest I'm not really too much above that.''

While they had been playing the roles for seven years, on screen they had only aged about two. Bird, who would turn 30 on his flight back to the United Kingdom, said the point of The Inbetweeners was that they never really grew up.

''They're still as immature as they were so I don't think there's much progression or growth.

''In theory they could have made other friends but none of them have, the only three people who will hang out with them are the other three people in the gang.''

Some reviews have critiqued the film for its portrayal of women, with The Guardian's Mike McCahill saying: ''Some of the abundant thought channelled into knob gags could have been diverted towards developing the boys' female counterparts beyond harpies and lust objects.''

Morris refutes the idea the film is misogynistic. ''I think if people think that, they don't get it at all. That's what meant to be funny about it, the fact they are so full of bravado in front of each other but have no idea what they're doing.''

The Inbetweeners 2 is screening now. 

- Stuff

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