I like The Inbetweeners, it had an underlying smart satire of teenage life, and had cringe-y, gross-out humour that felt like it was earned. It helped the tone along and lent itself well to the jokes.
I’m not, however, a fan of gross-out humour where it feels forced. I’m not going to laugh because someone threw up, unless there’s a reason for them too. While this might drop my biggest quibble with The Festival, let’s push on, shall we?
After being dumped at his graduation and having a very public breakdown, Nick (Joe Thomas), is persuaded to go to a three-day music festival by his best mate, this begins a weekend of awkwardly avoiding his ex and trying to enjoy himself.
I had low expectations going into The Festival. Sure, I liked The Inbetweeners and this is by the same director, Iain Morris, but you see the thing is, he hasn’t moved on. Hence why he’s using the same cast.
There’s nothing wrong with having a niche, but even then we should expect something to progress. Every story point I could see coming a mile away, on one occasion at the exact moment a character was introduced. Of course I wasn’t expecting Shakespeare, but the film telegraphs its plot points so much it might as well have made the character wear boards, saying things like: “I’m the comic relief drug addict” or “I’m going to fall in love at the end.”
I’m not going to say there’s no fun to be had here, some scenes did make me chuckle a bit, and Joe Thomas is a perfectly likeable main protagonist, but the whole thing is just so shallow. I remember in The Inbetweeners, you grew to sympathise with the four main characters, you invested in their struggles and laughed when they embarrassed themselves. Maybe I shouldn’t compare the two so much, but can you blame me when it shares some of the same cast and director? Sure, other properties have done that, but they’ve at least tried something new with the formula, look at Edgar Wright’s Cornetto Trilogy, three films with the same basic formula, but each film has it’s own identity. It doesn’t feel like Simon Pegg is playing the same character in Hot Fuzz as he is in Shaun of the Dead, but in this film, Joe Thomas may as well still be playing Simon.
As I say, I didn’t go in with high hopes for The Festival, and while I didn’t hate it, I wouldn’t recommend it either, the jokes are puerile and sophomoric with no real justification, the characters are one-dimensional, and despite Joe Thomas’ best efforts, the main character comes off as selfish and unlikable, right up until his token redemption.
In conclusion, a few laughs to be found but the same can be said of punching your friend in the stomach, and that won’t cost you the price of entry, but it won’t endear you to your friend and neither will this film.