Paul Greenwood's movie reviews - The Inbetweeners 2; Lilting; God's Pocket; The Unbeatables

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The foursome go to Australia in the second Inbetweeners movie
The foursome go to Australia in the second Inbetweeners movie

The Inbetweeners 2 (15, 96 mins)

Directors: Iain Morris, Damon Beesley

4 stars

Television to cinema adaptations don't always meet with the greatest success, but a pleasant exception in recent years has been The Inbetweeners. The TV show ran for three seasons on E4 between 2008 and 2010, but like Friends seems destined to live on in reruns for all eternity.

The first big screen update three years ago was met with high acclaim and quite astonishing box office, going on to become the most successful British comedy of all time, which only goes to show just how popular the brand is.

Reaching out far beyond the nominal target audience of teen boys, its success has been built on a foundation of appealing characters, jaw-dropping vulgarity and, most importantly, very, very funny jokes.

Even though the four main actors are pushing 30, they're still totally believable as lads in their early 20s, and the quartet of Will (Simon Bird), Simon (Joe Thomas), Jay (James Buckley) and Neil (Blake Harrison) are a big factor in the ongoing success.

As we rejoin them here, Will, Simon and Neil are still struggling to fit in at home, and so decide to head out to Australia from where Jay has been regaling them with tales (read lies) about his exploits.

As they travel from Sydney to the outback via various stops in between, what follows isn't so much a story as a collection of loosely strung together antics and scenes that are mostly just concerned with delivering the next laugh, which is rarely more than a few seconds away.

But though it's a more or less non-stop joke-fest, each of them has their issues to deal with.

Will isn't having a great time at university and is looking to travelling for answers.

Simon is becoming increasingly disillusioned with his girlfriend back home and Jay too is having girl troubles, which may lead to him displaying real human feelings for once.

And Neil, well, Neil has irritable bowel syndrome, which manifests itself during what might be the film's stand-out set piece at a water park.

It's just one of many, many examples of stunningly inappropriate situations and behaviour that offer opportunities for gut-busting laughs, as well as a fair few in the small throwaway moments in between the big gags.

Bodily functions figure highly, and be warned that a strong stomach might be required for some moments.

But while not afraid to positively shovel on the crudity, it has likeable, or at least relatable characters at its core. They may not always get on, but there's real camaraderie at the heart of their buffoonery.

It's not likely we'll be seeing this lot again, so we should enjoy their company while we can, and revel in one of the great recent success stories of British film.

See it if you liked: The Inbetweeners Movie, Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa

Lilting (15, 86 mins)

Director: Hong Khaou

4 stars

Its title may be a little too inscrutable for its own good, but this sad and tender British drama is an understated gem.

The excellent Pei-pei Cheng plays a Chinese woman living in a London nursing home who is mourning the untimely death of her son, Kai, who unbeknownst to her was in a relationship with Richard (Ben Whishaw).

As Richard visits her in the hope of getting to know her better, her inability to speak English as well as the schism over what should become of Kai's ashes becomes the source of growing friction.

Sweet, original and multi-faceted, Lilting is filled with scenes of sorrow and longing, making it poignant but never morose.

It's beautifully judged and sensitively directed, with moments of real poetry, and though it ever so slightly outstays its welcome, the fine work from Whishaw and Cheng makes it well worth seeking out.

See it if you liked: Tom at the Farm, Weekend, Song for Marion

God's Pocket (15, 89 mins)

Director: John Slattery

2 stars

One of Philip Seymour Hoffman's last completed films finds him starring alongside John Turturro as a pair of schlubby, low-level hoodlums in a grimy Philadelphia neighbourhood circa the late 1970s.

A compelling and evocative set-up phase offers a rich stew of blue collar scenarios, as Hoffman's wayward stepson gets involved in some trouble at work, while Turturro is into local boss Sal for 20 large.

But rather than build on this promising start, God's Pocket tailspins into increasingly ludicrous events and developments, throwing credibility out the window amid a total lack of characterisation or cohesion.

Richard Jenkins as a reporter writing about the city and Christina Hendricks as Hoffman's wife come off worst in their risible subplot, and even the great Hoffman is unable to salvage what is a major disappointment.

See it if you liked: The Town, Mystic River, Killing Them Softly

The Unbeatables (U, 97 mins)

Director: Juan José Campanella

1 star

It's hard to know what to make of this thoroughly odd Argentinean animation which comes unbelievably from the Oscar winning director of the terrific thriller The Secret in Their Eyes.

It's dubbed into English with the voices of British TV personalities like Rob Brydon and Alistair McGowan, with only Rupert Grint adding some star presence as the voice of Amadeo, an outsider kid who is the best in town at table football.

When he beats the local bully, the defeated youngster comes back years later as the world's most famous footballer, with plans to turn the town into a giant football stadium and theme park.

That's crackpot enough, but events take a turn for the even more bizarre when the table players come to life and team up with Amadeo to take on his rival in a game of real football in a film that so desperately wants to be Toy Story or The Lego Movie.

The animation aims for the zaniness of something like Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs but comes across as drab and lumpy, while football references and in-jokes will go over many heads.

But that's the least of its worries thanks to the ludicrous premise, flawed execution and complete absence of charm or wit.

See it if you liked: The Lego Movie, Toy Story, Wreck-It-Ralph

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