Against my better judgement, I have a soft spot for The Inbetweeners. The ultimate show for watching with the sound turned down after your parents have gone to bed when you’re too young to understand half of it, it remains a wealthy source of sayings for British teenagers and young adults. After the alright-ish second film was released, it seemed unlikely that any more movies or episodes would be released. But worry not – The Festival, written by Inbetweeners creator Iain Morris and starring inbetweener Joe Thomas as a character almost identical to the needy and awkward Simon, serves as a decent spiritual successor.
After an embarrassing incident as his uni graduation, protagonist Nick goes to a festival with his best friend to forget the humiliation and cheer himself up after a messy breakup. When he runs into his ex and her friends at the titular festival (never specifically identified, but rather a combination of many from the real world), various gross, unlucky, and hilarious antics ensue. A predictable plot, carried entirely by the likeable characters (consistently less offputting than some from The Inbetweeners) and solid, at times unbearable humour.
Though he tries, poor Joe Thomas doesn’t display much of a range here as Nick; his two modes are naive frantic grinning and frustrated spluttering. He brings little more to the script than an imitation of his performance as Simon, and doesn’t stack up too well next to his co-stars. Aside from Thomas though, the principal cast is pretty convincing, Hammed Amisashaun in particular bringing a jolly, warm quality to a character who could have been fairly dull otherwise. In fact, The Festival‘s greatest strength is arguably its supporting cast, featuring fantastic comedians like Jemaine Clement, Noel Fielding and Nick Frost, whose brief appearances are still more than enough to showcase their talents.
Be warned though, this film is not for the squeamish, and features jokes about situations like: infected nipple piercings, eventual nipple loss, and bestiality. If these subjects immediately elicit a physical reaction from you, then you’d best avoid this film, and anything else Iain Morris has ever made. Despite this though, the down to earth tone and fairly relatable characters keeps the outlandish scenarios from feeling artificial, and does a great job of squeezing every last out of toe-curling cringe humour out of many, many scenes.
As The Inbetweeners made for an audience a decade later, with fewer insensitive references to women and LGBT people, The Festival isn’t as memorable and likely won’t have anywhere near the same cultural impact. However, it proved an unexpectedly good time that I would recommend for fans of Morris’ other work.