out of Five
Running time: 100
Disappointing sequel that's just about worth seeing for its strong comic performances but is let down by an extremely weak plot and a script that lacks the wit and invention of the first film.
What's it all about?
St Trinian's 2: The Legend of Fritton's Gold sees Annabel (Talulah Riley) promoted to Head Girl at St Trinian's in the absence of Kelly (Gemma Arterton), who now has a new and exciting career as a superspy. Annabel struggles to unite the warring cliques of Posh Totties (led by Tamsin Egerton as Chelsea), Emos (led by Montserrat Lombard's Zoe), Rude Girls (led by Zawe Ashton's Bianca), Geeks (led by Ella Smith's Lucy) and Eco-Warriors (led by Juno Temple's Celia) but when the evil, woman-hating Lord Pomfrey (David Tennant) stages a raid on the school looking for clues to a 400-year-old treasure, the girls realise that they'll have to work together if they're going to solve the mystery and beat him to it.
Meanwhile, headmistress Camilla Fritton (Rupert Everett in full-on Camilla Parker Bowles drag once again) faces difficulties in her relationship with Minister Geoffrey Thwaites (Colin Firth), especially when it's revealed that Geoffrey might be a member of Pomfrey's secret woman-hating cabal.
The performances are excellent – Everett, in particular, is so good as Miss Fritton that you sometimes forget you're watching a man in drag. There's also strong comic support from David Tennant (relishing the chance to play a bad guy for once) as well as scene-stealing turns from Juno Temple, Tamsin Egerton, Jodie Whittaker (as the school's dotty secretary) and newcomers Zawe Ashton, Montserrat Lombard and Ella Smith, who spark off each other nicely.
The problem is that, despite an enjoyably audacious plot twist, the story is extremely weak and what should have been an inventive St Trinian's-style twist on National Treasure turns into an excuse to dress up and run around next to a few London monuments. In addition, the scenes are messily directed and the film lacks the high gag rate of the first film, whilst Sarah Harding (as Roxy) is noticeably out of her depth in the acting stakes and her line-readings are embarrassingly bad.
St Trinian's 2: The Legend of Fritton's Gold is watchable enough thanks to the performances but it's not as much fun as the first film and the law of diminishing returns with sequels is in full effect.