The Festival Review

The Festival
Nick (Joe Thomas) is dumped on the day of his university graduation. To cheer him up, his friend Shane (Hammed Animashaun) takes him to a music festival, where mud, debauchery and hijinks ensue. Problem is, his ex (Hannah Tointon) is at the festival too.

by Andrew Lowry |
Published on
Release Date:

14 Aug 2018

Original Title:

The Festival

Alarm bells ring early in The Festival. It seems to take an age to reach the shindig of the title and the boy-gets-dumped set-up is rote even by Britcom standards. Then, when we finally do arrive on site, we’re treated to a succession of awkward scenes of people standing around in bars that bear about as much resemblance to a real festival as Womad does to Creamfields. In real life, festivals are a mixture of Lord Of The Flies, The Lost Weekend and a bomb in Super Hans’ medical bag: the gathering here feels more like a workshopping weekend for middle managers. At least at first.

The Festival

The heart sinks: is this last hurrah for much of the team behind the various incarnations of The Inbetweeners as damp a squib as Kanye at Glastonbury?

Delivers a satisfying and surprising amount of belly laughs.

Give in to that feeling, and you’ll be making a mistake. Like a dodgy pill bought off someone who looks like he took a wrong turn on the Fury Road, The Festival just needs a little while to kick in. Once it does, at almost exactly the half-way mark, things improve heartily, the sudden increase in location filming (at Leeds last year) scrubbing off the televisual feel of what came before.

The getting-over-the-girl plotline would’ve been familiar to Tutankhamun (and the notion that possession of various women is key to the hero’s self-esteem is, let’s say, old-fashioned), but the one-liners come fast and solid, Claudia O’Doherty is great fun as an Aussie space cadet, and the near-farce of the final half-hour delivers just enough absurdity for it to feel almost true-to-life.

Director Iain Morris and writers Keith Akushie and Joe Parham have had hands in some of the recent high water-marks of British TV comedy, and the experience shows: one of the virtues of the second half is how many pay-offs you don’t see coming, delivering a satisfying and surprising amount of belly laughs for something that initially veers dangerously into The Inbetweeners 2 territory. What younger audiences will make of riffs on Pulp Fiction, Happiness and even The Wicker Man is a mystery, however.

It can’t quite capture the day-three madness of a true festival experience, but something that truly nailed that feeling would challenge Jodorowsky himself. Instead, think of this as one of those one-day jobs in Hyde Park: sanitised fun, but fun nonetheless, and a decent gateway to get the kids into the harder stuff.

There are highs and lows here, with a fair amount of shoe leather required before you get to the good stuff. Pretty much like a real festival, appropriately enough.
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