The movie version of BBC America's popular Britcom "The Inbetweeners", about four teenage boys growing up in Suburban London, was released on Friday after being the UK's third most popular film of 2011, to universal indifference. The New York Post thought it was crueler than the TV show, and Helen Bach of rock nyc warned: " If you are not a fan or unfamiliar with the series, I suggest you pass on the film. There is nothing that helps you get to know the characters and it is vital to know them in order to 'get' the gags."
Apparently, nyc took Helen's advice and "The Inbetweeners" show co-creator Iain Morris and one of the four leads, he portrays the "Ming" crazy Jay Cartwright, James Blakely, spoke to a three quarters filled theater after a Saturday evening screening of the movie.
Morris explained the problem facing them: foreign films are usually distributed to art houses in the States, but, the sexy romp would hardly fit well there. While in commercial theaters, the thick English accents wouldn't be viable at all. In the end a small distributor, with its eye on future DVD and Movie Channel sales, financed a small release in college towns and big markets. In a fascinating q&a, Iain explained the programs intentions and James explains what it is like to do horrible things to women!
The concept behind "The Inbetweeners" was to show how boys showed affection to each other, spoke to each other, and tried to navigate that other sex. "American Pie" was a big influence. Iain had been a commissioner on the very popular and long running Limey comedy "Peepshow", which uses POV voiceovers to express the inner lives of the two main characters. The ghost of that idea lives on in Simon Bird, an upper middle class boy, who is sent to a "comprehensive" (who have to teach all education applicants, not quite a High School) when his parents divorced. It follows Simon and his three best friends through the final three years of school.
James Blakely plays Jay, who tells exaggerates lies about his sexual adventures and finds himself (indeed, they all do) in astoundingly humiliating positions. "I just read the script and don't think about what I have to do otherwise I couldn't do it. How do you ask an old lady for a blowjob?" James wonders, remembering one of his more bizarre moments. "That was a real woman I had to say it to." James did draw the line at showing his penis in the flick, special effects superimposed someone elses organ! "I didn't get to choose which cock." James admits and Iain remembers spending a day studying pictures of penises.
Musically, Mike Skinner (The Streets to you) wrote the incidental music, but as a whole it isn't as much fun as the TV show, where, as Iain explained, they use bands whose music they like.
MTV are currently airing an American version and while James hasn't even seen it, Iain is an advisor on the show. There was an early attempt to Americanize the sitcom with ABC, which went nowhere. But this time, Iain only wrote the first episode and forwarded character outlines, script ideas, concepts, "They came over with barrels filled with money" James cracks wise!
The success of the movie insures a movie 2 is in the works and the four leads remain friends. Though they have certainly grown up. James is engaged to be married and is 25 years old now. In show business since he was 7 years old, this is actually his second Britcom.
Unlike Helen and Lyle, I loved the movie. For all the terrible things that happen to the boys on vacation in Crete, they all manage to get a happy ending (in a manner of speaking). There is enormous affection between the boys and even with their love interest. Simon is especially sweet (but he always was, right?). It might sell in the States with some money behind it, but probably not. In person, Iain (though I wish he'd change the spelling of his name) and James are funny, forthright, and pleasant company who answered every question till the lights were turned out on us.
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