Angus, Thongs And Perfect Snogging

Director    Gurinder Chadha
Starring    Georgia Groome, Eleanor Tomlinson, Aaron Johnson, Alan Davies, Steve Jones
Release    TBA (US) 25 JUL (UK)    Certificate 12A
2 stars


2nd August 2008

Director Gurinder Chadha's success with Bend It Like Beckham and Bride And Prejudice rested on the juxtaposition of frivolous rom-com gloss with a serious undertone of class and racial tensions. Angus, Thongs And Perfect Snogging sadly is just the rom-com gloss. Whereas Chadha's previous films have held an appeal across age groups, Angus should not be braved by anybody over the age of 14. Perhaps the problem is that, thanks to Pixar, we have come to expect kids films to appeal to adults too. But this offers nothing more than a few scenes with a topless Steve Jones (the Welsh bloke from T4) to appease the mums.

The film is adapted from a series of books by Louise Rennison, in which she chronicles the escapades of youngster Georgia Nicolson in diary format. These books brilliantly capture the mortifying nature of teenage life while simultaneously revelling in the silliness of it all. But condensed into a feature film, the running jokes and some of the best characters are ruthlessly axed making for a disappointing big screen translation for fans of the books.

Imagine Bridget Jones as a teenager and you've got Georgia Nicolson (Georgia Groome, enjoying a lighter gig after the gritty London To Brighton). Our hapless heroine blusters her way through a series of embarrassing scenarios as she negotiates her way through the perils of teenagedom. On hand to both help and hinder are embarrassing parents, a naughty little sister, three best friends ("the ace gang") and one angry fluffy half-Scottish-wildcat, Angus.

The opening sequence of the film is the movie's high point. We first meet Georgia dressed up as a stuffed olive, waddling along to a fancy dress party. She arrives, only to find that the ace gang have not kept their side of the bargain by dressing as vol-au-vents. Sufficiently mortified, poor Georgia bumbles out and wobbles her way home through the streets of Eastbourne. And that, I'm afraid, is as good as it gets. The rest of the movie focuses on the efforts of Georgia and best mate Jas (Eleanor Tomlinson) as they try to bag new school hotties Robbie (Aaron Johnson) and Tom (Sean Bourke). They encounter various obstacles along the way, such as Georgia's impending emigration to New Zealand, Robbie's girlfriend "Slaggy Lindsay" and the unwanted amorous attentions of kissing coach Peter and "Dave the Laugh" (who, tellingly, does not utter a single funny line in the entire film).

Georgia's family go some way towards redeeming the film from total failure. Alan Davies is a nice choice as the affable dad, while comedian Karen Taylor evidently enjoys larking about on the big screen as Georgia's mum. And Groome herself is a likeable screen presence as the heroine (though the real hero of the film is Angus the cat).

But what grates throughout is the script. I defy anybody to find a teenager who actually speaks how Georgia and friends speak. It doesn't go down the Juno route of highly stylised yet unrealistic dialogue. It's more like listening to your Great Aunt Mabel trying to get with the lingo of today's "yoof" - at best embarrassing, at worst patronising. Are the audience curling their toes in sympathy for Georgia or at the groan-inducing script? My money is on the latter. Anna

More:  Family  Comedy
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