Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging

Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging

***1/2

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

"Why do you have to try and grow up so fast?" asks Georgia's perpetually confused dad. "Why can't you enjoy being 14?"

Enjoy being 14. It's something which might sound reasonable to an amnesiac adult with no memory of what it's like to be that age, but Louise Rennison, author of the books Angus, Thongs And Full-Frontal Snogging and On The Bright Side, I'm Now The Girlfriend Of A Sex God, on which this film is based, clearly remembers it well. What's more, this aspect of her enormously popular novels has undergone a masterful transfer to the big screen.

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Though they will doubtless one day seem trivial in the light of adult concerns, Georgia's problems feel overwhelming in the here and now. She thinks of herself as a sophisticated woman but nobody will treat her that way. Her family's behaviours are embarrassing, but they don't seem to consider how they might reflect on her. She doesn't have a boyfriend. And she has (or, at least, she's convinced she has) a hideously oversized nose.

Though life is difficult, Georgia doesn't deny that there are good things, such as the group of friends with whom she hangs out. Their ebullient friendship is beautifully, unapologetically drawn, in all its awkwardness. These are not the ultra-chic teenaged girls we see in mainstream Hollywood movies. Nobody goes shopping, glamour is kept to a minimum and parents remain very much a part of the picture. Snogging exists only in detailed theories or, by appointment, with a boy who has designated himself a teacher of this mysterious art. For fun, the girls hang out on the pier, follow boys, do little self-assessment quizzes together and giggle endlessly. But their friendship seems real, their desperate desires are understandable, and they're surprisingly easy to like.

Everything turns upside down when Georgia meets Robbie, two years her senior, a new arrival at her school and the boy of her dreams. But Robbie is already dating the school slut, a girl who would fit in comfortably in those Hollywood films. Not one to give up, Georgia plots and schemes to make Robbie see that she should be the one for him. But will her plotting itself be her undoing?

In the role of Georgia, Georgia Groome at first seems overblown and hammy, until one remembers that studied falsity can be very much a part of life at that age. Her OTT emoting is very much in key with the part and her heartache, whilst often ill-justified, is touching to see. Few films have attempted to tackle this difficult period between childhood and adulthood in anything like so stark a fashion. Nothing here is romanticised. There's also overt treatment of teenage sexuality, again presenting a dramatic contrast with mainstream fare. But Angus, Thongs And Perfect Snogging gets away with it remarkably well.

If you're 14, you may feel that you have finally found a film you can identify with. If you're older, you might be surprised by how accessible this is. Its storyline may be simple, its resolution cliched, but it's a remarkably pleasing film. Only the last line lets it down, suggesting that, after all she's been through, Georgia still needs to turn to boys to find her self-esteem. This seems rather at odds with the message of the books. Whilst it's something which many teenage girls will feel able to relate to, they might have hoped for a role model who could prove a little tougher in the end.

Reviewed on: 21 Jul 2008
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Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging packshot
When she meets the perfect boy, 14-year-old Georgia becomes determined to transform her life.
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Director: Gurinder Chadha

Writer: Gurinder Chadha and Paul Mayeda Berges, based on the books by Louise Rennison.

Starring: Georgia Groome, Aaron Johnson, Eleanor Tomlinson, Sean Bourke, Liam Hess, Karen Taylor, Alan Davies, Tommy Bastow

Year: 2008

Runtime: 92 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US

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