I should declare my interest as a huge fan of the television series which surely ranks as one of the best comedies in recent years. Its skill lies in the writing . Although it is set in the present, it also has an Everyman quality about it that appeals to older people too who either witness that behaviour in their children, or remember what it was like being that age themselves. Traditionally feature films of comedy series fare badly. Their fault being to either try to stretch out a half hour episode over 90 minutes, or in simply reheating familiar jokes. This does neither, and instead represents a logical coda to a group of friends who have just finished school prior to going to University or employment.
The familiar themes are here, masturbation, defecation, vomiting and awkwardness with the opposite sex. But this is not an “American Pie” style “gross out” story. It is also about friendship, fun and coming of age. However vulgar they are, the joke is invariably on them. A holiday abroad allows their familiar failings to be exploited in a completely new setting, and it works well. It represents a compilation of all the things that could go wrong for teenagers abroad, and the mishaps arrive thick and fast, each one dispatched before it becomes laboured, a fresh disaster is never far away.
Four girls are introduced with whom they all ultimately pair off with, after the usual false starts. The girls themselves are consistently placed in a good light, although the stereotypes sometimes border on the sexist. Alison (Laura Haddock) is the best written of the four as an intelligent and sassy girl in love with a perfidious waiter but who falls for geeky Will’s quirk charm. Lucy (Tamla Karl) plays the foil for Simon’s blind infatuation with Carli which culminates in an endearing climax to the story. Neil’s love interest is Jane (Lydia Rose Bewley) who is the most one dimensional of the girls, and Lisa (Jessica Knappet) plays the fat girl who ultimately wins Jay, valiantly overcoming a part where the humour teeters on the offensive at times, and is the least satisfying of the pairings as a result.
Far from eking out thin material, several vignettes are frustratingly brief. The Sixth Form Head of Year’s closing speech is a delight, the Brit-weary proprietor of the apartment block oozes potential, and a madcap nutter appears and disappears all leaving us wanting more. Director Ben Palmer, who had previously worked on the television series ,and previously Bo Selecta has, shown himself capable of moving from the small to large screen, and writers Iain Morris and Damon Beesley , both of whom have worked with stand-up comedian Jimmy Carr, have shown themselves adept at combining traditional set piece comic situations with convincing dialogue. All have earned their spurs to have a go at a stand -alone screen comedy.
How well this would travel abroad, particularly America, I am not sure. The characters and humour are very British, which is its charm. Affectionate and warm, the strong characterisation and pacy script is a delight. That this is the end of the road for the quartet isn’t frustrating ,it is satisfying and a fine end to a very good original idea which has runs its course and finished on a high.