Alan Davies, Karen Taylor and Georgia Groome in Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging
Despite being 25 years older and the opposite sex of the main characters, I rather surprisingly enjoyed this movie. Writer/Director Gurinder Chadha (Bend it Like Beckham) knows how to make feel-good movies, of which this definitely is one. She is aided by likable and talented newcomer Georgia Groome in the lead role.
Georgia Nicolson is fourteen years old and obsessed with boys and her upcoming 15th birthday party. Her and her friends spend their time plotting ways to meet the boy of their dreams. When Robbie and his brother Tom start going to the same school as the girls, Georgia and her best friend Jas see their chance for boyfriends and move in quickly. The path to true love never runs smooth of course and Georgia must deal with jealousy, embarrassing parents, a younger sister and other girls with designs on the same boy as her.
It's a sign of the times that the innocence of this movie makes it feel old-fashioned. The girls want boyfriends they can snog (kiss), but certainly nothing more than that. The boys too, are all sweet and innocent. Georgia's family also plays a big part in the movie. She worries that her parents will get divorced (yes Eric, she has a mother and a father in this movie that are married to each other), when her father is offered a job in New Zeland and her mother hires a hot new interior designer. I suspect that this movie isn't so far off from reality, but it is far off from what you see in most Hollywood movies.
It's a young girl's fantasy movie filled as it is with the "average" girl getting the hot guy and getting her revenge over the blonde, big-busted slutty girl. That alone is enough to make this movie an anomaly. There are plenty of movies aimed at young boys (sometimes it seems like all movies), but a movie aimed at young women is fairly rare, probably harkening back to the theory that girls will watch guy films, but guys won't watch chick flicks.
Georgia Groome does a great job in the lead. She's funny and believable in her part. It's mainly due to her performance that I was able to relate to a movie so far from my own circumstances. Everyone's been in embarrassing situations, even if they haven't been a teenage English schoolgirl and thanks to Georgia's performance you can empathize with her even if you're a 40 year old American man.
Since I already told you that this is a feel-good movie, you can probably guess that it has a happy ending. Obviously it would help your enjoyment if you are a teen-age (or younger) girl, but the fact that even I was entertained by it clearly speaks volumes.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Georgia Groome in Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging.
Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging is a much better movie than it is a title (it doesn't exactly roll off the tongue). It's a charmingly well-written British distaff coming-of-age story. Scott mentioned its old-fashioned innocence yet it was the first Nickelodeon produced motion picture to receive a PG-13 rating (the only other one, to date, was 2012's Fun Size). I guess they felt some of the girls' conversations about boys crossed over into a more mature area? And there's a brief scene of a girl's butt in a thong and she is shown padding her bra. That rating is a bit of a stretch if you ask me.
I agree that newcomer Georgia Groome gives a winning performance. She appears to be a natural in front of the camera. Her average looks suit the role of the slightly oddball character yearning to be cool and popular. The rest of the cast is fine but she deserves special mention since she is in nearly every scene and she has to demonstrate a full range of emotions.
They got two important things right. They cast age appropriately (Groome was 15 and Aaron Taylor-Johnson, who plays Robbie, was 17). Juvenile behavior is much more acceptable and less annoying when it is done by actors that actually look the right age. They also got their personalities right. These kids all look, act and talk like real teenagers. They have that mix of know-it-all confidence and shy social awkwardness that all teens have to varying degrees. Georgia's relationship with her parents is likewise believable. She gets completely embarrassed by them one minute but then cries her eyes out on her mom's shoulder the next.
Of course it is still a movie. And since this is a chick flick fantasy Robbie is the perfect guy and the one exception to what I wrote in the previous paragraph. He's really too perfect and therefore the least believable character in the story. He's cool, nice, talented and hot. While she's merely a cute girl with a quirky personality and average looks. Not a combination I ever saw in school.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson has become a star since this movie. He played Vronsky in last year's Anna Karenina and he was in Kick-Ass and Albert Nobbs. He was already a decent actor. He almost makes you buy his choosing Georgia at the end. And that's no easy sell. He also gets one of the funniest lines. The first time they speak after an argument...
Robbie: I wrote a song about you.
Robbie: Yeah. It's called "Bitch in Uniform".
Despite its awkward title (Angus is the name of her cat) this movie is a winner. It combines winsome humor with teen angst in an innocuous yet realistic mix. Georgia Groome is terrific as a young girl taking her first steps towards womanhood. Even the title is beginning to grow on me. Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging. Why not?
Photos © Copyright Nickelodeon Movies (2009)