I can say this after watching MTV's Americanized version of "The Inbetweeners:" I'm happy the Brit hit show was made into a film, and that the movie will land in U.S. theaters in early September.
The update (9:30 p.m. Monday, MTV; 2.5 stars out of 4) from Brad Copeland ("Arrested Development") isn't horrible. It's just not in your face enough to stack up to the original. It seems MTV is a little worried about blunt depictions of high school sexuality after its failed attempt to bring "Skins" over from the U.K.
Both versions of "The Inbetweeners" follow four high school boys who don't fit into any specific social group, as in nerds, jocks or brainiacs. They become friends because they all are desperate to erase their loser status--and their virginity.
Will McKenzie (Joey Pollari) is the new kid at Grove High School. He instantly falls into no man's land when he shows up carrying a briefcase and wearing a blazer leftover from his days at private school. Yet he befriends Simon Cooper (Bubba Lewis), who doesn't realize how cute he is; Neil Sutherland (Mark L. Young), a goofball with no smarts; and Jay Cartwright (Zack Pearlman), who loves to make up stories about sexual escapades he wishes were real.
The new actors are amusing and charming in the roles, but pale in comparison to the original's stars: Simon Bird (as Will), James Buckley (Jay), Joe Thomas (Simon) and Blake Harrison (Neil).
Maybe I'm not being fair comparing the two series; it would be interesting to hear from someone who has never seen the original. But I can't help but look back when MTV's take lacks much of what made the original daring, witty and hilarious. Although many of the new boys' failed schemes are taken directly from the original, the writing lacks that version's zip and zing, smarts and sass. MTV's current comedy, "Awkward," mines similar territory (from the female perspective) with greater success, and the network had a much bawdier, better written and well acted comedy in "The Hard Times of RJ Berger," which was canceled after two seasons.
"The Inbetweeners" delivers moments of humor equal to all those other shows--mostly from the physical comedy--but overall it's too wimpy to make its own mark.