The Festival Review – A Cinematic Headline or Support Act?
Runtime: 98mins | Director: Iain Morris | Rating: 2 Stars
Without doubt, The Inbetweeners is one of the most iconic and beloved British TV series. It was hysterically funny, highly relatable and at its most basic, a brilliant coming-of-age story about four boys during their time at school. It made you laugh, cry and then laugh even more.
So, when I saw that Joe Thomas, who plays Simon, was starring in a new film helmed by Iain Morris, the co-creator of The Inbetweeners, I couldn’t help feeling a jolt of nostalgic excitement at the prospect of a new, unbranded Inbetweeners escapade.
Unfortunately, this didn’t turn out to be the case, and I was left disappointed.
The Festival begins with Nick (Joe Thomas) being dumped by his university girlfriend, Caitlin (Hannah Tointon). In an attempt to cheer him up, his bestfriend, Shane (Hammed Animashaun), takes him to a festival for a weekend of throwaway romance, music and mud. Unfortunately, Nick’s weekend of emotional recovery and rebounding is sabotaged when he discovers that Caitlin is there too, who he immediately attempts to win back.
Part of what made The Inbetweeners so brilliant was its originality and natural charm. Despite Will being a naïve suck-up and Jay being a smutty deplorable in every single episode, you couldn’t help loving every character. With The Festival though, I didn’t feel attached to any of the characters. Nick comes across as whiny and desperate (though, admittedly, has moments where you sympathise with him), Amy (Claudia O'Doherty) is annoying throughout and Shane, unfortunately, is entirely forgettable.
After seeing the trailer for The Festival I was convinced it would make me laugh out loud the entire way through. But, this wasn’t the case. Instead, it reaped a small chuckle here and there, and these were mainly due to Jemaine Clement’s needy step-father who I thought was easily the best character.
This, for me, was the biggest disappointment.
In the past, Iain Morris’ writing has had me on the floor, clutching my stomach, unable to stop laughing. The Festival, however, bar a few one-liners, just wasn’t very funny. Whilst it undoubtedly shared the crudeness of The Inbetweeners, it certainly wasn’t as clever or relatable. Whilst some may find the agonisingly relentless stretching of jokes amusing, I didn’t, and The Festival relies on that kind of humour a lot.
By the end of the film, having watched someone’s nipple be ripped off, a druid engage in bestiality, a man have his prosthetic leg stolen and a drug-fueled smurf run frantically through a field, I felt enough was enough.
Despite my criticisms though, The Festival does slightly redeem itself by being quintessentially British and giving a brilliant portrayal of any festival we have. There is none of the glitz and glam of Coachella, for example, but instead, mud, piss, and plenty of it. The accuracy of the film is helped by the fact it was filmed during last year’s Leeds festival which gives it an authenticity other films often don’t have.
Ultimately, I found The Festival to be a disappointment. I admit, however, this may be because I judged it against The Inbetweeners – an easy thing to do. That being said, the unoriginal storyline, forgettable characters and excessively prolonged jokes did it no favours.
Hopefully, this is just a stumble in both Iain Morris and Joe Thomas’s careers and they will return to their former comedic glory soon. We shall see…
To watch the trailer – click here!