The Inbetweeners, Movie: Could This Be A Rare Thing… A Good Spin-Off?

August 19, 2011

One of my favourite TV shows is going big this week. The Inbetweeners is a comedy from Channel 4 about four suburban sixth form boys, with sixth form boy obsessions, mainly sex (or lack of it). They are Will (the nerdy one), Simon (the neurotic one), Jay (the boastful one, who has the least to boast about) and Neil (the thick one). The comedy is extremely filthy and very, very funny. And now they’ve made it to the silver screen.

The Inbetweeners - a comedy from Channel 4

It’ll probably do very well, but the road is littered with TV shows adapted for film that tanked, because the thing that made the show fabulous in the first place got lost in translation once committed to celluloid. For some reason, many of our favourite British shows of the 60s and 70s stank to high heaven on film. Let me list a few. If you want to seek them out, on your head be it.

Steptoe and Son. Warring father and son rag and bone team. Brilliant comedy in half hour snippets: horrendous in one overlong 90-minute chunk.

Morecambe and Wise. A genius comic duo that made you thank the sweet baby Jesus for Christmas TV: by the end of the movies (there were three!) you were praying for sweet merciful release.

Are You Being Served? The sitcom set in a department store was transplanted to a Spanish holiday resort for this film. It was shocking.

Up Pompei! Frankie Howerd was funny. This film was not.

The Avengers. Wonderful quirky British agent caper turned woefully dull with a miscast Uma Thurman and Ralph Fiennes. Honor Blackman, Diana Rigg, Linda Thorson and Patrick Macnee have nothing to worry about.

It’s not just us Brits with the dodgy TV to film adaptations. The Americans have a Library of stinkers. Here are some of the shows I grew up with, or simply liked, that died on celluloid.

Bewitched. There was always a twinkle in the eye of Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha the witch. You couldn’t get a twinkle in the eye of Nicole Kidman if you’d squirted it with lemon juice.

Scooby Doo. The only remarkable thing about this movie was finding someone who actually looked like Shaggy. Matthew Lillard was very good. Rhys Ifans would’ve been a credible substitute.

Lost in Space. Danger! Danger, Will Robinson! Bad remake! Bad remake!

Thunderbirds. The puppets in the original series were more animated than the real life counterparts in this version made for the Bieber generation.

Sex And The City. I thought it stopped with the last episode of the final series. There’s a reason you don’t try and bring back the dead.

There are a few adaptations however, which I think have worked well. I’m thinking of Starsky and Hutch and The Brady Bunch Movie. I think this may be because they were played for laughs. In the case of the Brady Bunch Movie, placing a sitcom family from the 60s into the modern day, with all the cultural clashes that would result, was genius in my opinion. Then there are the Naked Gun films, the robust progeny of the TV show Police Squad, held together by the deadpan delivery and deep Canadian burr of Leslie Nielsen.

This is but a very small list. I know you’ll have your own favourites and eye gougers in the world of TV-to-film spin-off. So come on… let’s have it!



  1. Haha fantastic! I am also pondering about the Inbetweeners filum. I came on board quite late with the series but watch a lot of the reruns and really enjoyed them, in a cringe worthy way. Kind of Grange Hill for sixth formers.

    Most reviews have generally been favourable – so are we tempted to make an outing on an orange wednesday sometime soon Pie? I’ll bring the biscuits along if you do fancy it hehe 😉

    • I think seeing it on an Orange Wednesday is a fine idea, Ant. I’m willing to take a punt on this one, ‘cos the TV show is so good.

      • Ok i sold – have heard good things from people who have seen it – some even want to see it again as they missed so much when they were laughing! 🙂

  2. I have just watched the entire 3 series on 4OD over the last week or so (girlfriend was away!). Wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy it as I’m 36, but I guess my mind is puerile enough! Great fun and I could really identify with the characters from when I was that age.

    • I’d heard about this show for ages, but didn’t get round to it until the third series. Once I tried it, I just couldn’t leave it alone. I’m sure the target audience is the usual 18-24 year olds, but as someone who’s much older than you and is therefore Officially Old™, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think more people outside the target audience watch it than would be expected.

      I find it rather endearing that you filled the space left by your absent girlfriend with wall to wall sixth form filth – well played, sir!

  3. I love The Inbetweeners! Not sure if I’m ready to plunge myself into the movie yet though… I’m a bit like you, wondering whether it’s going to be a complete fail.

    I’m currently trying to make my boyfriend take me to see Mr Popper’s Penguins, purely for the fact it has penguins in. It’s bound to be terrible, but come on… PENGUINS!

    • Penguins are funny little creatures, aren’t they? There’s a new penguin house at London Zoo if you want to pay them a visit. Then there’s the film Happy Feet about dancing penguins. You need to scratch that itch – go see the film!

  4. I happened upon the Inbetweeners midway into series 2 and never looked back (only to catch up on missed episodes & series 1). I’ve seen the film and loved it; I think it worked well 🙂

    According to Wiki there is a US series on the way….

    • I really think I should see it now, thanks to your succinct review!

      I heard about the (potential) US version somewhere, or maybe like you, I found it on Wiki. In these days of gross-out comedies, it could work. Let’s hope it becomes a long stayer like The Office, rather than a crash and burn like Life On Mars.

      Welcome to my blog!

  5. I have never watched the inbetweeners…first time am hearing about it,anyway what you said about scooby doo is just hilarious…and I was so sad when the sex and the city movie disappointed like that **shakes head**, the T.V show was awesome

    • I hesitate to go and see any movie spin-off from a hit TV show (or American remakes of foreign language films, but that’s another subject for another time). They invariably disappoint, as I’ve outlined in this post. However, I’m willing to give this one a go. Try and find a few clips on YouTube, so you get an idea of the tone of the show, then you can watch the series on the Channel 4 website, if you have access to it.

      Welcome to my blog!

  6. Just seen the film and blogged about it of course! Totally agree with it being one of the very few good spin-offs from tv series.
    Though I disagree that you thought sex and the city was a bad spin-off, it may just be me being girly, but I really rather liked it! Though the sequel to it was bloody awful.

    I loved the tv series Bewitched, did it used to be on 5, or was it 4? I can’t rememeber, but I grew up with that series, and the woman who played Samantha was just superb. Interesting fact about Nicole Kidman – she’s actually a pagan/wiccan, so a real white witch. Funny how she can’t play a witch though; only in Practical Magic was she credible.

    I will say this though – if they make another Inbetweeners film in the future (which I hope they don’t) it may just crash and burn like the rest of them.

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