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question of the day: What is the appeal of ‘The Inbetweeners’?

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The Inbetweeners movie

I thought I was safe avoiding The Inbetweeners Movie. It’s based on a TV show I’ve never seen, it wasn’t screened for critics, and as I noted when I featured the trailer, it looks like nothing more than:

sex- and booze-obsessed teenaged losers hav[ing] an adventure in which they shave their genitals, insinuate that their best friends are gay, offer one another useless advice on romance, reduce women to body parts, and get so drunk their livers explode.

Nothing about the concept thrills me.

But now, The Inbetweeners Movie has become an absolute phenomenon in the U.K. It’s the third biggest film of 2011 in the U.K.: it has earned more money than Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and The Hangover Part II. It will very likely, and very soon, pass the No. 2 flick, The King’s Speech (which didn’t open here till early 2011), though it probably won’t reach the levels of the No. 1 film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. For comparision’s sake, the £35 million Inbetweeners has so far earned would be about $350 million in North America. Only two films have earned more than that in 2011 in the U.S. and Canada: Harry Potter and Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Inbetweeners is the most successful live-action comedy in the U.K… ever.

Indy Datta at Mostly Film echoes a conversation I had with a few British critics last night at an unrelated screening:

If you’re not already a fan, there’s not much here for you, but then The Inbetweeners has been a colossal hit on television, rating close to 4 millions viewers on a niche channel by the end of its first run. It comes pre-sold to a lot of fans who are right in the ticket-buying demographic. Viewed in this context, and in the context of the popularity of sitcom movies in the past, is its success that much of a shock?

The three series of the TV show [Amazon U.K.] deliberately left the story — which follows four male friends through high school — unfinished, and if you want to know what happens to them, you have to see the movie.

Still… the kind of money this flick is bringing in suggests that every single one of those four million TV viewers has bought a ticket to see this in a multiplex — average U.K. cinema ticket: £5.40 — twice. Or near enough. Which is preposterous.

So what the hell is going on? What is the appeal of The Inbetweeners?

I expect it’s mostly my U.K. readers who will have something to say about this, though the show has been airing on BBC America (but is not yet available on DVD in Region 1). If you can comment only on the show, I’d still be happy to hear from you. And the movie is, shockingly, scheduled to be released in the U.S. and Canada on November 25, probably only as a limited release, I’d guess.

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)


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