The Inbetweeners: A Smarter British Version of American Pie

Teen Sex Comedies Without Borders could be an NGO, for there is something perversely hopeful in the way Ben Palmer's The Inbetweeners slips across boundaries of taste and geography. Done with high school, four differently adorable English geeks decamp for a two-week holiday in Crete, and try hard to play down their resemblance to "the world's shittiest boy band" so as to partake of "sun, sea, sex, sand, booze, sex, minge, fanny, and tits. And booze. And sex." There follows a cascade of largely self-imposed humiliations, and even some pathos, but not too much. Britishly, the movie has a knack for inflating little sap bubbles as if mostly for the joy of popping them. That the movie demands no prior knowledge of the UK sitcom that spawned it, nor of the forthcoming MTV remake, isn't a dumbing-down, necessarily; and to say it's basically a British Superbad or American Pie doesn't allow for the real and nearly surreal comic possibilities of poise and genteel wit applied to randy scatological hijinks. You can't blame it for being episodic, but you can see how its leads—Simon Bird, James Buckley, Blake Harrison, and Joe Thomas—have flourished in one another's funny company and in writers Damon Beesley and Iain Morris's custodial care. (As the intellectual of the bunch, and with stinging sarcasm worthy of Peep Show's David Mitchell, Bird also narrates.) Impressive, too, that the lads' conveniently available shag interests, played by Lydia Rose Bewley, Laura Haddock, Tamla Kari, and Jessica Knappett, seem human and worth winning.

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