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FILM REVIEW: The Festival embraces music, mayhem and mud

The Festival (15)
Running time 1hr 38min
Rating: **

WITH The Inbetweeners Movie, Iain Morris spawned what shall go down in the footnotes of cinematic history as a scandalously British subgenre, the post-adolescent cringe-buster; such was the blunt force of that film’s pee-and-rum-induced earthquake that its cast have never graduated to anything less lurid or puerile, playing variations of the same characters on demand across a dazzling array of media. This ‘spiritual successor’ – The
Festival – pairs Morris with Joe Thomas, arguably the most consistently typecast among the old gang. To nobody’s surprise, he launches himself headfirst into a torrent of muck, reprising his Inbetweeners schtick to portray yet another twitchy, sad-sack yoof lost amid a fog of glitter-and-vomit-coated confetti.

Graduate Nick is a little worried about his future, having been dumped by sweetheart Caitlin (Hannah Tointon, also of Inbetweeners fame) and roped into a stint at a music festival with a bunch of rahs who hate his guts (among them Theo Barklem-Biggs, whose bonkers cameo in – you guessed it – The Inbetweeners Movie is stretched into a meatier role here).

The sense of déjà vu that inevitably bedevils vehicles of The Festival’s kind is palpable from the get-go, as the movie touches off with a stillborn joke involving Thomas’ wing-wang (an established ‘comedy’ institution that Morris will mercilessly exploit over the course of the film’s runtime).
Help is on its way in the form of Hammed Animashaun, whose
down-to-earth wingman is the perfect foil for Thomas’ hopeless bromantic. The former, an aspiring electronic musician, is keen to meet elusive headliner DJ Hammerhead. In pursuit of this impossible dream, he enlists pathological optimist Amy (Claudia O’Doherty) and the two proceed to sink their muddy fingernails into a string of misadventures. With the terminally-annoying Nick temporarily out of sight, the film somewhat finds its feet with a scene of zoophilic depravity that nevertheless feels positively warm and good-natured relative to all that preceded it. O’Doherty, for her part, more than hijacks the film, frequently threatening to steer a crass, haggard script into cheerier waters.

This is a tonally-segmented farce, initially opting to unleash a tsunami of filth and misjudged gratuity our way before settling into something less volatile, slightly more conventional and altogether more gratifying in the second act. While the main body of the Inbetweeners cast have stayed well away from this project (for my money, I doubt the first half of the screenplay did much at all to win them over), Nick Frost, Jemaine Clement and Noel Fielding are at hand to rock cameos that buy an otherwise preposterous, meandering story time. Even Thomas gets a bone or two thrown his way, strutting his stuff in a Full Monty-esque striptease. Unfortunately, just as it seeks to do for festivals what Morris’ last hit did for the lads’ holiday – that is, sell its subject to viewers a touch too young to actually decamp to Glasto – The Festival is lost for everything The Inbetweeners Movie had going for it, from its sense of chummy, unmistakably masculine camaraderie to the vein of genuine anarchy that does much to set the British teen flick apart from its better-groomed American counterpart.

There’s nothing here that’s particularly original or relatable, even if the movie isn’t totally beyond redemption.

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