Run time: 96 mins
In Theaters: Wednesday 6th August 2014
Production compaines: Channel 4 Television Corporation
Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5
IMDB: 6.8 / 10
Director: Damon Beesley, Iain Morris
Producer: Spencer Millman
Screenwriter: Damon Beesley, Iain Morris
Starring: Simon Bird as Will McKenzie, James Buckley as Jay Cartwright, Blake Harrison as Neil Sutherland, Joe Thomas as Simon Cooper, Freddie Stroma as Ben, Tamla Kari as Lucy, Emily Berrington as Katie
Also starring: Daisy Ridley
Fans of the TV series and 2011 first movie probably won't mind that the filmmakers never bother to develop these characters at all. At least the four lead actors have plenty of charm to paper over the thinly written script, making the most of even the most simpleminded gags while playing up the traits that have kept fans coming back since the TV show debuted in 2008. The actors are now between 27 and 30, but the idiots they play are resolutely stuck in their teens.
Having finally survived high school, Jay (James Buckley) takes a gap year in Australia while his pal Will (Simon Bird) has a lonely first year at university. Even a visit from pals Simon and Neil (Joe Thomas and Blake Harrison) fails to cheer Will up, but a suggestion that they drain their student loans and head Down Under to visit Jay is more like it. Jay has painted a picture of sex-crazed party mayhem, but when they land in Sydney the reality is somewhat different. So when hot babe Katie (Emily Berrington) invites Will to come to Byron Bay with her gang of middle-class hippies, he drags his mates along. But these four guys fail to fit into the backpacking lifestyle, and instead head to the Outback to find Jay's ex.
The film opens in a nicely cinematic style, with slick spoofs of both Harry Potter and Scarface before settling into the usual groove: setting up each sequence as a possibility for sex before everything unravels into humiliating chaos. The problem is that this repetitive cycle is all set-up but almost never any pay-off. A waterslide sequence is a hilarious exception, building a queasy sense of suspense before landing a series of riotously revolting punchlines. But more often the characters are left staring into space before muttering, "OK then," before the screen fades to black as if it's time for an ad break.
But even if these four guys are utter idiots, the actors have an easy chemistry that makes them almost likeable. At brief moments, each actor finds the core of his character, eliciting a flash of resonance before the next half-developed comedy routine begins. The main problem here is that creators Damon Beesley and Iain Morris write and direct the film as if these guys are still teens, when they're actually young men acting like teens. That difference is small but significant: they shouldn't be constantly panting for sex, they should be dealing with the fallout from bad sexual decisions. In other words, even if they don't grow up they are now in a grown-up world, and it would be a lot funnier to watch them face adult issues than remain stuck in their moronic adolescent schtick. Clearly the actors are up to the challenge.