Despite all of Jack Whitehall's posh boy charm, this is a film that ultimately fails to lift off in the same way that its similar TV-to-Big Screen predecessors did.
Following in the footsteps of such shows as The Inbetweeners and Alan Partridge, Jack Whitehall’s BBC Three comedy, Bad Education, is the latest TV show to make the move from small screen to silver screen. Unfortunately, unlike the former examples, this show-to-movie leap just isn’t up to scratch.
The film follows hapless secondary school teacher Alfie Wickers (Whitehall) and the riotous members of Class K as they embark on a residential trip to Cornwall. As is to be expected with this rag-tag group of children (Alfie included), their visit to the small English county goes beyond the extreme as, somewhat bewilderingly, they become involved in a maniacal revolutionary plot to gain Cornish independence.
Now, by all means, there are some redeemable features to this film. While it isn’t the same laugh-a-minute kind of comedy as you might hope, there are moments of shock-value hilarity that are effective. Certainly, if you enjoyed the kind of laddish, vulgar humour that The Inbetweeners’ movies provided, you will enjoy the kind of jokes this film has to offer – countless knob gags et al. If you’re also a fan of Whitehall’s very particular brand of posh-boy satire, then certain scenes – like the one in which we finally meet the comedian’s much talked about boarding school friend, Atticus Hoy (Jeremy Irvine) – will probably leave you relatively happy.
The real problem with the film though is that its plot exceeds the point of hyperbole to such extremes, that it ultimately comes off as ridiculous, bland and, at times, dull. While Alfie does – as the original TV show will attest – have a tendency to get himself into trouble, the way he is ingratiated into this latest debacle just borders on silly. His first meeting with the film’s main antagonist, Pasco (played by Game of Thrones’ Iain Glen) is hashed and garbled – making it difficult to understand exactly what the film is trying to push you towards in terms of plot. And when you do eventually catch on and the plot reaches its climax, the result is a rather shoddy, poorly executed parody of Braveheart. Which is as perplexing and frustrating to watch as you can imagine.
The film also relies very heavily on gimmicks. Whether it’s the various character gimmicks already established in the show (Stephen’s flamboyance, Fraser’s harebrained ideas, Chantelle’s promiscuity) or the over-reliance on Cornish stereotypes; they all get pretty tired towards the end – which is even more underwhelming when accompanied with the increasingly dumb-founded plot. Even the shock-value jokes, which really do have you gasp-laughing at the beginning, get a bit overdone towards the film’s conclusion.
For all of Whitehall’s natural charm and charisma, he just cannot carry this 90 minute film nearly as well as he can carry a 25 minute episode. The perplexing state of the plot, as well as the under-development of many major characters ultimately leaves you wishing that Whitehall had stopped while he was ahead. By all means, if you’re a fan of the show, and you’ve yet to watch this movie…. just don’t. The series 3 finale was as apt and poignant a conclusion as any – it’s just a shame that Whitehall failed to see that prior to production.
The Bad Education Movie (2015), directed by Elliot Hegarty, is distributed in the UK by Entertainment Film Distributors, Certificate 15.