Festival comedy gets stuck in the mud (The Festival review)

A spiritual (though unrelated) sequel to The Inbetweeners, The Festival is directed by Iain Morris (the series creator) and stars Joe Thomas, one quarter of The Inbetweeners gang. Unfortunately, it seems that having only one quarter of the gang means that the comedy only shares a quarter of the success rate.

Receiving top billing in the cast is Joe Thomas, whose character Nick is identical to his character Simon in the TV show. His comedy has not progressed in the four years since The Inbetweeners were last on our screens, so many of his jokes felt stale and like they were deleted scenes from the former TV show. Playing Nick’s best friend was Hammed Animashaun, and his character was much more refreshing. He offered a different dynamic for Nick to bounce off, and these moment of the film are funnier. The rest of the cast are all passable, although many of them have little to do and are simply there to cause conflict, conveniently progress the plot or a provide a quick joke before disappearing again. Small roles from big stars Jemaine Clement, Nick Frost and Noel Fielding provide the biggest laughs, but unfortunately these are all too fleeting, with Nick Frost having only a minute of screen time.

The script is fairly well written and has a good amount of pacing, but many of the jokes, particularly those told before we arrive at the festival, are very bland and not that funny. Luckily, the joke success rate does improve once the festival arrives and we see the characters interacting with their surroundings and pointing out the bizarre things that are normalised at these events. The soundtrack, as can be imagined, is mainly pop-rock, with Mr. Brightside having the top spot. It seems a shame that the film chose to use such overplayed songs rather than using this perfect platform to allow new artists to showcase their work.

The story is fairly cliché and features all the usual rom-com troupes; Boy loses girl, boy tries to win back girl, boy messes up even more etc. Another ‘surprise’ romance is obvious from the very beginning but feels very forced and is clearly only there to provide some kind of happy ending. The editing is passable but felt sloppy in some places, and featured far too many dance montages to try and fulfil the 90-minute run time. The films only saviour was towards the end, when a truly bizarre flash-forward montage provides genuinely hilarity.

Overall, The Festival is fine. It provides enough laughs to justify its existence, but feels like a TV movie that happened to be shown in cinemas.

5 Stars

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