Tag Archives: James Buckley

Failed Critics Podcast: Halloween Necromancing Triple Bill

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Brushing the cobwebs out of the way through the passage right at the back of the Failed Critics library, where nobody has been for centuries or more, we’ve found an ancient book containing spells for raising the dead.

Using our powers wisely, we let Steve Norman, Owen Hughes and Tony Black conjure up some deceased actors, putting them straight back to work in brand new movies pitched on this very episode of the Failed Critics Podcast Halloween special.

Resurrecting the dead in a triple bill is about as creepy as it gets this year, with What We’ve Been Watching ditched in favour of reviewing the new release Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, and a quick chat about the brand new semi-biographical comedy The Comedian’s Guide to Survivalstarring James Buckley (The Inbetweeners). Comedian’s Guide is co-written by and based on the life of our very own James Mullinger from Underground Nights – check out their latest episode for some great background information on the making of the hilarious film.

Elsewhere on this podcast, the Failed Critics found time to bring back the quiz with Owen in the driving seat. News was trailer heavy, packed with discussion about the new Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and Logan trailers.

We’ll be back as normal next week with a review of Doctor Strange, but in the meantime keep an eye out for a brand new episode of our sister gaming podcast Character Unlock – as well as a round-up from this year’s Cambridge Film Festival, the longest running film festival in the UK!

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Field & Mullinger’s Underground Nights: The Comedians Guide to Survival

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Welcome to this special episode of Field and Mullinger’s Underground Nights all about the brand new comedy film The Comedian’s Guide to Survival, the semi-biographical story of James Mullinger.

Written and directed by Mark Murphy, featuring The Inbetweener‘s star James Buckley as Underground Nights’s co-host Mullinger, Comedian’s Guide follows the trials and tribulations of a hapless pant-wetting stand-up juggling his dreams with paying the bills as a magazine writer.

In this hour-long podcast, Mullinger chats with Paul Field about how true to life the film’s depiction is, how the movie came about, as well as some reminiscing about life as a journalist for GQ and nights in comedy clubs.

The Comedian’s Guide to Survival is released in cinemas nationwide on Friday 28 October 2016. Follow on Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date with all the latest news.

Support the podcast by streaming the podcast from our hosts Acast, subscribing on iTunes and leaving us a review and rating, and sharing this page with all of your friends – and some people who aren’t your friends too, just for good measure.

The Comedian’s Guide to Survival

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“I’m not even on stage and I’m getting heckled.”

Imagine you’re heading into the office in the morning. Heading towards your desk, coffee in hand, when for the fourth time that week, you’re reminded not to piss on yourself at work. If you’re anything like me, you’ve quit that job as soon as the first trickle hit your thighs. You certainly haven’t made it such a regular enough occurrence that colleagues feel the need to drill into you that urine on your jeans is simply not the way to go.

While you or I might quit and take solace in a darkened corner hoping for the ground to open up and swallow you whole, that’s not how veteran stand-up comedian James Mullinger rolls.

Maybe he’s got less pride than me or you? Maybe he likes the feel of warm urine leaking into his socks? Or maybe, if semi-biographical comedy The Comedian’s Guide to Survival is to be believed, it’s just that a shoe filled with warm asparagus scented fluid isn’t even close to the worst thing that happen to James Mullinger on his journey to become a stand-up comedian.

Stuck at a career impasse, magazine writer James Mullinger (The Inbetweeners star James Buckley) has aspirations to be a stand up comedian. And he would be able to do it, except for one rather large problem: he sucks harder than one of them toothless £1.50 cum-buckets you can smell coming down Catford High Street. Oh, and he pisses his pants on stage.

Failing to balance a job he’s beginning to loathe with countless hours on the road, urinating on pub stages, and spending time with his wife and kids; James is fast coming to a point where something has to give.

The writer’s abusive twat-bag boss (the equal parts sublime and hilarious Paul Kaye) gives him an ultimatum: take a promotion to deputy editor but drop the dreams of making people laugh, or lose his job and try and live on the pittance bar room comedy pays.

It seems the difficult decisions are being made for him. If having his dreams shat on isn’t bad enough, his dick-breath editor sends the down-trodden writer half way around the world to interview some of his comedy heroes and cover Montreal’s Just for Laughs comedy festival.

One way or another, James is going to have to take control of his own destiny and decide what he wants to do with his life. Only once he hits several feet below rock bottom does his path become clear.

Biographical comedies are a tough sell. You’ve got to make someone’s story interesting enough to watch, but make it funny as well. This can only have been made more difficult for a stand-up comedian as the audience will be expecting side-splitting, laugh out loud funny from start to finish. Of course, the early gigs where everything is going laughably bad are easier to win the viewer on side, but the tricky part is saving a little for when all is going well in the life of Mullinger.

For a barrel-scraping hobby writer like myself, the mere thought of having to do that is giving me heart palpitations, but the man himself, writer James Mullinger along with co-writer and director Mark Murphy, have not only pulled off the great comedy balance, but managed to squeeze a little soul into the film that I really didn’t expect.

James trudging through the bar and pub comedy scene is a depressing little look into the lives of all those stand-ups that have told us stories of their early days. The fourth wall is broken to regale us with stories of journeys with people he couldn’t stand, running for busses and trains, and of nothing ever really going right. At the point that our protagonist gives in, going about his regular writing job, trying to move on with the 9-5 life, you truly feel sorry for this man who can’t catch a break. You can’t even find it in yourself to will him to keep going. The poor bastard is done.

And you really feel it when a line of the man’s heroes, in a string of “as Himself” credits from the likes of Omid Djalili, Mike Wilmot and Gilbert Gottfried, tell him to give it up repeatedly, brutally and painfully.

Conversely, The Comedians Guide to Survival is a real joy to watch. Particularly after the turning point in the film as a sense of purpose and a new found confidence washes over Mullinger. It’s almost humbling to watch – which says just as much about the direction and Buckley’s performance as it does about the writing.

It’s not all plain sailing. I do have one minor complaint about the film and it’s simply this; while I appreciate seeing Mullinger’s story on the screen, I would have liked to have seen a little more of the darker, behind the scenes stuff that the comedy scene can be known for. I only say this because it seems like the film should be telling me the whole story. This rings especially true when your film features Brendon Burns; a man who has very prominently, very loudly and very bluntly spoken about the comedy scene in the past. I just would have liked to have seen it explored a little more.

But this isn’t a deal breaker by any means. Comedians Guide doesn’t suffer without this aspect, it’s more a personal preference and I wouldn’t expect everyone that watches this laugh-out-loud comedy to come out wanting it.

What I would expect for everyone that sees the film is to see a big old smile on their face. The Comedian’s Guide to Survival is a comedy with a steady stream of chuckles right from the start that gradually builds into some brilliantly delivered laughs. It will have you pissing in your pants (not literally, James) and at the same time rooting for our hero the whole time. There are even some unexpected moments that had me wanting to reach in and give the guy a hug.

As the credits roll, you will find yourself with a massive involuntary grin on your Chevy Chase. Just remember who told you how much you were going to enjoy this cool little comedy.

The Comedians Guide to Survival is released in UK cinemas nationwide on 28 October 2016

Owen’s 2015 In Film: Part 11 – No(tmanyfilms)vember

In the penultimate entry to Owen’s 2015 in review series that has been looking back on all of the movies he’s watched during each month of the year, he discusses a few of the films he’s seen in November.

by Owen Hughes (@ohughes86)

cg-buckle1If October was my busiest movie-watching month of the year, watching at least one horror film every single day, then November was something of a respite period. When I wasn’t writing stuff for my University assignments, then I was writing a new blog post every single day, or occasionally even finding time to review movies on here.

What I apparently didn’t find time for is actually watching more films. I think this past month is possibly the first time since around 2011 that I actually went four days in a row without watching anything at all. Not only did that happen once, but twice! What kind of behaviour is that for a man who supposedly runs a film podcast?

Although, some of that time that I didn’t spend watching films, I did spend productively. I appeared on the pilot of The Bottle Episode‘s new podcast, talking about my TV genealogy, which was a lot of fun. I also drove down to Wikishuffle HQ and interviewed Chris Wallace and Phil Sharman about their show and Best Comedy Podcast award, which you can watch on my YouTube channel.

Anyway. Back on topic, I suppose I better get on with discussing a few films that I’ve seen lately, starting with…


Week 1: Sunday 1 – Sunday 8 November 2015

Sunday – The Blair Witch Project (1999); Monday – The Blair Witch Project (1999), The Blair Witch Project (1999); Tuesday – [absolutely nothing]; Wednesday – [absolutely nothing]; Thursday – [absolutely nothing]; Friday – Batman (1966), The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994); Saturday – Iris (2015), HUDSON HAWK (1991); Sunday – Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse (2015)

hudson-01I’ve already moaned about this on the podcast, but I honestly don’t think I can fully portray just how bad I thought Hudson Hawk was. For those that don’t know, Bruce Willis plays a cat burglar recently released from prison, who is set up with a new job to steal various Da Vinci inventions from museums. Hidden in said items are special diamonds required to power an alchemy machine, turning lead into gold. I said it at the time and I stand by it now, even after the steam has stopped blowing from my ears, but Bruce Willis (credited as a story writer) is absolutely appalling in what is one of the worst movies I have seen all year. Possibly even ever. From the eye-rollingly bad premise that’s too absurd to contemplate, to the lamentable performances and sickeningly smug comedy skits, it’s just horrendous. I’m sure it was probably a lot of fun to make, as Danny Aiello, Richard E Grant, Andie MacDowell etc all seem to be enjoying themselves in what I think is supposed to be a throwback to old fashioned goofball comedy capers; it just doesn’t translate into anything even remotely associated with the word “fun” for the viewer. It’s definitely one to avoid.


Week 2: Monday 9 – Sunday 15 November 2015

Monday – He Named Me Malala (2015); Tuesday – [absolutely nothing]; Wednesday – [absolutely nothing]; Thursday – [absolutely nothing]; Friday – WITCHFINDER GENERAL (1968); Saturday – [absolutely nothing]; Sunday – Green Butchers (2003)

2a9435Going right back to where this blog series all started with last October’s Horrorble Month, where I watched one horror film every day in the build up to Halloween, the very first review I wrote was for Witchfinder General. I don’t remember when I first watched Michael Reeves’s English folk-horror, starring Vincent Price as the infamous Matthew Hopkins. What I do remember is that it was then – and still is now – one of my favourite horror films of all time. It might possibly have been my first introduction to Price, kick-starting my love-affair with his movies. It’s atmospheric, dark and uncomfortable to watch as you might expect. Whether it’s because the charismatic witchfinder himself is asserting his influence to sexually assault and murder women, or from the sheer brutality of the violence, it’s a chilling historical drama. I think this time around, one thing struck me more than any other, which was the fact that you never understand Hopkins’ motivation for doing what he does. Not properly. You don’t know whether or not he believes he’s actually on a mission from God, or if he’s just a sadistic killer who is after fame and fortune. It’s odd that I’ve never really noticed that before. It seemed like a glaring omission at first, but the more I thought about it, the more clever I thought it was. Hopkins (the real Hopkins who was responsible for around 60% (nearly 300) of ALL the women killed in the 17th century accused of witchcraft) was a monster. Leaving the film character’s motivations as clouded as the real man’s were, it’s entirely fitting. And, more to the point, doesn’t matter. Price’s subtleties in the role are more than enough to keep you interested in the character – and again, credit to the young director for winning Price’s respect and forcing him to tone down his occasional tendency to perform with a certain… vivaciousness. Excuse the plug for a moment, but I wrote up a piece on Witchfinder General for my blog, Films As News, which you can read here.


Week 3: Monday 16– Sunday 22 November 2015

Monday – [absolutely nothing]; Tuesday – [absolutely nothing]; Wednesday – [absolutely nothing]; Thursday – [absolutely nothing]; Friday – THE VOICES (2015); Saturday – X-Men: First Class (2011); Sunday – Don’t Look Now (1973)

The-Voices-01-GQ-10Mar15_rex_b_813x494I think I owe Callum a certain degree of gratitude for being so insistent earlier this year that The Voices was one of the best films of 2015. If it wasn’t for his continuous recommendations for this psychological horror comedy, starring Ryan Reynolds as a delusional psychopath whose dog and cat talk to him (both of which are voiced by Reynolds), it might have passed me by entirely. As it happens, I’m inclined to agree with his assertion that it genuinely may be one of the most underrated gems of the entire year so far. It’s almost guaranteed to make my top 10 list when I submit it for the Failed Critics Awards (ahem, please vote in them this year as soon as you’re done with reading this article!). As Callum also pointed out in his review, to say too much about The Voices would be to spoil it for those who have yet to see it. Suffice to say, it’s a plot that escalates in its complexities as Reynolds’ character, Jerry, stops taking his meds. Whilst I’m positive there’s a message behind the film about not-so-much perhaps mental illness and how it affects people, but more about a general social conscience and how we, the mentally well, perceive them, the mentally unwell. With Jerry more contented to live in a fantasy world as it makes his grim situation more easy to digest, there’s a sadness in what feels like an uncomfortable truth. Marjane Satrapi deserves to take credit for the way she portrays Jerry’s dreamlike existence with its vibrant colours that fade or get stronger, depending on what stage his mental wellbeing is at, but I also think that Michael R Perry’s script is incredibly detailed and it just seems like the perfect combination of style and substance that’s so very rare. So if Callum’s recommendation wasn’t strong enough for you, let me add my weight behind it too. Go see it! It’s on UK Netflix right now so you have no excuses. Unless you don’t subscribe to Netflix, I guess.


Week 4: Monday 23 – Monday 30 November 2015

Monday – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (2015); Tuesday – [absolutely nothing]; Wednesday – [absolutely nothing]; Thursday – Event Horizon (1997); Friday – The Warriors (1979), Zardoz (1974); Saturday – [absolutely nothing]; Sunday – Force Majeure (2015); Monday – Cartel Land (2015), THE COMEDIAN’S GUIDE TO SURVIVAL (2016)

James-bombing-on-stageI’m not going to talk about The Hunger Games again. I made my feelings quite clear on the podcast that week that it’s just not a series of films I’ve particularly enjoyed. In fact, I am struggling to think of a series of movies that I’ve invested so much time into and got so little out of with each passing entry in the series. Especially as I didn’t even enjoy the first bloody one! Instead, I’m going to talk about (and not review) a film that I went to see the test screening of in London that’s due for release sometime next year. It’s called The Comedian’s Guide To Survival and stars James Buckley (Jay from The Inbetweeners) as the struggling stand-up comedian, James Mullinger. If his name sounds familiar, it’s because Mullinger is not only an actual professional comedian with his own TV show, but is also (and more importantly, I’m sure) the co-host of the first Failed Critics spin-off podcast, Underground Nights, along with Paul Field. The movie about his life (which he wrote along with director Mark Murphy) had an audience test screening that Paul, Carole and I went along to see at the Courthouse Hotel. It’s a bit weird going to see a film about the life of someone you kind-of know. Mostly, as Paul and I discussed on our way there, what happens if the film turns out to be.. well.. shit? Do you lie about it? Do you not say anything at all? As it turned out, it wasn’t an issue, because the film was thankfully very funny. With support from various British comedy actors such as Paul Kaye, Kevin Eldon, Mark Heap and so on, I think it could go on to be a success next year. Word of warning, though: don’t buy a round of drinks at Soho hotels. £28 for three drinks! What a rip off. (Cheers for that by the way, Carole. I’ll buy you one next time….)


And that’s it. Only one more of these to go that I will be scrabbling around to write in the following few weeks. If you’ve any thoughts about the reviews above, or if you disagree and want to tell me why I’m wrong, leave a comment in the box below or message me over on Twitter at @ohughes86. See you all in the new year!

The Inbetweeners 2: A Drubbing

However the second film is perhaps a step too far with few laughs and little endearment towards the main characters.

By Steve Norman (@StevePN86)

inbetweeners 2 3Six years ago The Inbetweeners hit the screen for the first time. Originally airing on E4 the sitcom about four sixth form lads who were not popular, not unpopular, hence the title, was an overnight success which spawned two more series, an American spinoff and as of this week two movies.

The T.V. series really encapsulated what it was like to be that age at school. It got the humour right, not making it too childish or immature but really ‘getting’ the ‘banter’ shared between a group of mates of that age.

A movie was announced and like many I feared that the Inbetweeners had jumped the shark but what we got was a worthy transfer from small screen to silver screen where Simon, Will, Neil and Jay ventured off to some Greek (I think) resort for their first lads holiday.

Just as the three T.V. series really understood school life, the first movie was a great take on a first holiday with your mates.

However the second film is perhaps a step too far with few laughs and little endearment towards the main characters.

The Inbetweeners 2 sees our heroes on a months ‘travelling’ around Australia to meet Jay who has gone out there to be a superstar DJ.

The biggest problem is that Jay and Will have become parodies of themselves while Simon has just acquired a bigger moron of a love interest than Carli (infuriatingly spelt with an ‘I’). Neil is the only one that has not suffered and gets the most laughs as a result.

Jay’s bullshit was always funny but his opening monologue, bragging about his life in Australia, is quite frankly over the top and ridiculous. While his brags about his Football Manager prowess getting him an offer of a role in the England set up or his sexual prowess at the Caravan Club were funny, this was just over done and got tedious quite quick.

Will has become too confident. He should never be picking up a guitar to impress a girl or going on a sober rant, even if what he was saying was spot on.

The jokes too seemed to be lowest common denominator with lots of gross out humour or slapstick. Of course I was not expecting sophisticated humour from the Inbetweeners, but the jokes in their previous outings did not seem so easy or obvious.

There are some plus points and a few laughs. Not many stand out as being that memorable but it certainly raised a few laughs. It just did not have me in stitches like I was hoping it would. The cameos at the end are a little pointless as well.

Apparently it was difficult enough to reunite the cast for this second outing and despite an obvious camaraderie and comradeship between the quartet it seems unlikely that they will return to complete a trilogy.

And given how disappointing this outing was that can only be a relief. At least the majority of the Inbetweeners legacy will be left intact.

You can listen to Steve talk about the film with the rest of the podcast team on the next episode, out some time in the next week or so. In the meantime, you can find him on Twitter @StevePN86.

The Inbetweeners 2: A Review

The Inbetweeners 2 is a send-off that encompasses the best and worst and the franchise.

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

inbetweeners 2 4If ever there was an utterly unnecessary comedy sequel, The Inbetweeners 2 is most certainly it.  Fact of the matter is that this series was done.  Twice, first in that wonderfully melancholy and ambiguous TV ending and then in a giant blow-out film ending that gave the cast the send-offs that, in the moment considering the attachment many people would have had to them, it felt like they deserved.  The book was closed, it was done, they made three fantastic series of television and a surprisingly great film, they all got out before they had a chance of hitting a bum note, and everyone involved was free to pursue careers of having to have “with [x] from The Inbetweeners” forcibly suffixed to everything they do.  As per usual, though, money meant that the tale wasn’t quite over just yet and so everybody has been drawn back in for one last go-around even though there really doesn’t need to be one.

Consequently, The Inbetweeners 2 feels like a gratuitous victory lap more than anything else, something that’s especially pointless seeing as The Inbetweeners Movie was basically a victory lap as well, and a timelier one at that.  It doesn’t really need to exist, even as it tries desperately hard to adequately justify reasons for doing so (which it only just sort of does, but we’ll get to that).  It brings back pretty much all of the staples of the franchise (extended cringe humour, gross-out moments, cruelty, line-crossing, a not-100%-great attitude towards women) and ratchets everything up to 11, as if everyone involved knows that the money is all-but assured so why not go for broke?  The result ends up encompassing the best and worst of the series in one neat little package that is vastly inferior to the original yet is not without merit or enjoyment.

We are six months on from the ending of the first film and the post-Malia lives of our cast haven’t exactly been brimming with good times.  Will (Simon Bird) has transferred his complete lack of social skills in sixth-form to university, Simon (Joe Thomas) is similarly friendless at uni and Lucy (Tamala Kari), the holiday girlfriend he transferred universities to be closer to, has turned out to be a bit emotionally unstable, Jay (James Buckley) is taking a gap year in Australia and is bullshitting severely to the rest of the group to hide the fact that his life has been a mess ever since Jane dumped him, and Neal (Blake Harrison) is… actually, I have no idea what’s happening with Neal but he hasn’t progressed mentally, if nothing else.  Over Easter break, Will, Simon and Neal decide to surprise Jay by heading over to Australia to see him, where Will bumps into an old junior school friend who may or may not be into him (Emily Berrington), Simon accidentally ends up deeply committed to Lucy, and Jay decides to finally hunt down Jane and try and get her to take him back.

I’m going to get this out of the way first, because it makes a pretty good segway from the prior synopsis, The Inbetweeners 2 isn’t wholly brilliant towards women.  See, in the show, the women that the boys try going after are often depicted as above them for the most part.  Like, yeah, sometimes there are some who just lead the guys on or who aren’t the nicest of people but those are the minority.  The series, for the most part, made the boys the butts of the jokes as their being terrible people screwed up their chances with otherwise good women.  This is why a fair few people were, to put it lightly, mildly disappointed with the characterisation 180 that the first movie did to Carli.  2 continues that trend and ploughs full steam-ahead on it; all of the boys, barring Simon, got dumped between films, Will’s old friend Katie is shown at nearly all-times to be a tease who is leading him on, and Lucy has suddenly turned into an extremely clingy jealous girlfriend who nags at Simon like an old fishwife, obsessively stalks his Facebook, and frequently takes a pair of scissors to his hoodies.

Jane only appears at the very end for about five seconds and is then duly removed from the picture, so that makes the only women featured in the film negative stereotypes that are bad for the boys.  It’s a little bit uncomfortable, especially because the film can’t fully decide if it sympathises with the boys or if it wants to see them suffer because they’re not exactly great people.  The show always seemed to have a lock on how it wanted to treat the boys (realising that they’re terrible people, but still having some compassion for the bond that they share), but this film doesn’t seem completely sure and that makes the treatment of the female characters seem more than a bit accidentally uncomfortable, again especially since the search for Jane drives the entire second half of the movie and her summary dismissal after she has been found reduces her character to simply a MacGuffin for Jay.  I realise that the film’s viewpoint is that of four teenage boys, but, again, the film still can’t quite decide whether it sympathises with them or wants to ride and flog them for all it’s worth.

But, eh, that’s a personal hang-up that most people probably won’t notice or care about.  There are other, more general hang-ups that I imagine other people will share, like how the film quite often over-steps the line of various kinds.  It’s never enough to just have Neil have an upset stomach when at the top of a water slide, he also has to have the shits too, and have the scene end with Will vomiting profusely everywhere (I shan’t divulge how we get there because, right up until the vomiting, it’s actually one of the film’s bigger laughs).  It’s never enough to just have Will awkwardly embarrass himself in front of Katie by trying way too hard, he has to also sing a slow song on guitar in ill-fitting falsetto, with that song running for a whole two minutes and it turning from “cringeworthily funny” to “just plain cringeworthy” after the first minute.  It’s not enough to have Jay’s bullshitting email visualised on-screen in a manner that calls to mind The Wolf Of Wall Street, it has to be done in full, long after the joke stops being funny, and to have the characters lampshade how unnecessarily long it is after the fact.  It’s a problem the first film ran into at points, going too far across lines of grossness, cringe or joke length, and it’s only exacerbated here, likely because it’s a film and, therefore, there was no reason for anyone to drag writer-directors Damon Beesley and Iain Morris away from the type-writers and scold them with a firm “NO!” before they could script a scene in which Jay masturbates in the bed next to Will’s over something I don’t plan on spoiling here because, in an inverse to the water slide bit, the pay-off is absolutely worth the awkward construction.

On that note, the film’s also a bit too long.  I know, I know, it’s only 98 minutes, but the film is still structured like an episode of the show and what’s excellently paced over 22 minutes can drag and feel a bit aimless when stretched out.  The jokes-per-minute ratio is consistent, but it still drags in spots and, at about the 70-odd minute mark, when the film starts getting really good, I was ready for it to be over.  Also, it still can’t quite shake off the feeling that everyone’s only back here for the money.  Very rarely did the film offer up a scene or comedic setpiece that I felt truly justified everybody returning for one last hurrah.  At its best, The Inbetweeners filters its laughs and heart through painful, painful reality and those kinds do appear (in particular, Will’s attempts to appear cool to Katie’s douchebag friends and the brief glimpse we get at his sad, lonely university life hit rather close-to-home for me) but they’re much rarer this time, the film being more content to just showcase Neal’s genitalia (which a dog then licks because, again, nobody seemed to ever say no to anything in this script) than coming up with more of those.

So, having spent all of this time criticising the film, there still remains one set of questions unanswered.  The big ones.  The only ones that most of you care about.  Is The Inbetweeners 2 funny?  Did I laugh?  After all, I have mentioned multiple times before that I am willing to overlook more problematic undertones if the actual comedy on display is funny, to the point where I really should just put my money where my mouth is already.  Well, I’ve made you wait this long, so I’m just going to give it to you straight…

Yes, I laughed a lot at The Inbetweeners 2.

As much as in the first film?  No.  As much as in the show’s best episodes?  Probably, yes, but only because this runs for just over the length of four straight episodes of the show.  I should stress right now that it is not as funny as either the last film or the TV show… but I did laugh, a heck of a lot, more so than at any non-22 Jump Street comedy released so far this year.  Appropriate lip service is paid to the usual Inbetweeners running gags like Neal’s dad possibly being gay, Jay’s seemingly endless euphemisms for sex (played this time as him becoming very insecure after Jane dumped him), seemingly everybody having a crush on Will’s mum (which gets an incredible payoff in the finale that I will not spoil no matter how much you beg) and Neal’s complete and total inability to function in society.  The new stuff, meanwhile, when not overstepping the line, is often excellent and, as previously mentioned, gags come at a very consistently quick pace, for the most part.  The one time that the film slows down is during a scene just before the finale that, to put it bluntly, is like the end of the bit on the pier in Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa but without the gags and lampshade hanging.  And, yes, the reason why I am being very vague regarding the jokes, and why it took me so long to getting around to talking about them, is because I don’t fancy spoiling them.  What else can I say?  If I found a film really funny, I’m not about to go about telling you about the funny jokes when I can just leave you to see the film for yourself to find out, am I?

One other thing the film has going for it is its ending, in that it’s sudden, kind of open, a little bit unsatisfying, leaves none of our characters much better off than when they started, and, quite honestly, is the absolute most perfect send-off for this franchise possible.  Look, not to disparage The Inbetweeners Movie, but its ending basically gave its characters everything they wanted; relative social popularity, happy memories, and girlfriends.  Except that it’s not really what they deserve.  Let’s not forget, these four are all, in their own ways, terrible, selfish people and giving them what they wanted, whilst satisfying for those of us who saw some of ourselves in each of the characters, isn’t really what they deserve and rather contrary to the down-to-earth relatively-realist nature of the show.  Conversely, The Inbetweeners 2 gives the cast what they deserve without coming off as overly-cruel in doing so, it being a nice mixture of disappointment, failure, underwhelming but the realisation that they still have each other over everything else.  Like, hey, the holiday may have been a complete failure, but at least we’re still friends, followed by one last cuing up of the instrumental version of “Gone Up In Flames” by Morning Runner.  That, I feel anyway, is the ending that the series deserves, the one that, in hindsight, it should have delivered the first time, and it nearly manages to justify this last venture.  Not quite, but almost.

So, it’s a bit too long, poorly serves its female cast members, goes too far a bit too often, and can’t quite shake the feeling that this didn’t really need to exist.  It’s not as good as any of the show’s three seasons, and it’s not as good as the first film.  But The Inbetweeners 2 is funny, it’s very funny, its cast is still of a ridiculously high-calibre (not that you needed me to tell you that, they can pretty much play their roles in their sleep by this point) and it provides the perfect send-off to the series as a whole.  For a lot of people, that will be enough.  In a way, it is.  It’s undoubtedly the weakest thing that the UK Inbetweeners have ever put out, but I came away feeling pretty damn satisfied.  It’s good enough.

Just, please, stop now.  Reject any extra money that is dangled in front of your faces and stop now.  While you’re still ahead.

Callum Petch knows that the emperor wears no clothes.  Follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch)!