The Spanish-American philosopher George Santayana observed that “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” The words of the 20th-century philosopher ring true when watching 2018’s The Festival.
Directed by the creator of The Inbetweeners, Iain Morris, and starring Joe Thomas (who played Simon in the hit show), The Festival has a frustratingly repetitive core of jokes. They either stem from Column A around bodily functions, fascinations, and liquids, inspired by the heavy use of alcohol, or from Column B with quips at posh people. The same winning combination made The Inbetweeners a deserved hit. One of the winning factors behind it was that the show knew when the party had ended. At 20 minutes per episode, and just three seasons, The Inbetweeners had a measure of self-awareness. With The Festival, it all feels so disappointingly similar, retelling old jokes, backed by the rather old-fashioned narrative of a man trying to reclaim his ex-girlfriend.
It’s unfortunate that the film begins at a tediously slow pace. Despite Hammed Animashaun’s best effort as Shane, there’s very little of interest that occurs in the opening 30 minutes. They eat chicken, graduate, and Joe (Thomas) mourns for his lost love. The desire for modern audiences to check their phones at this point will be strong.
The film’s chaotic final act does bring some strong laughs, and it’s far from an unenjoyable experience while you watch. Thing is, with today’s cinema prices, does the film deserve your hard-earned time and money? The answer is a frank and disappointing no.
It’s undeniable that the creators of The Inbetweeners have talent. They need to remember their past gags and use them as a springboard to start thinking up some new ones. The Festival is a slow re-hash of their former glories.
CAST: Joe Thomas, Hammed Animashaun, Claudia O’Doherty, Jermaine Clement, Nick Frost, Hannah Tointon
DIRECTOR: Iain Morris
WRITERS: Keith Akushie, Joe Parham
SYNOPSIS: After Nick’s (Thomas) girlfriend dumps him, his best mate Shane (Animashaun) has the perfect antidote to his break-up blues: three days at an epic music festival.