ANGUS, THONGS AND PERFECT SNOGGING
Growing up in seaside Eastbourne, 14 year old Georgia Nicolson (Georgia Groome) and her best friends Jas (Eleanor Tomlinson) and Ellen (Manjeeven Grewal) are on the verge of young womanhood and concerned about their looks, their boobs and having a boyfriend - for the first time. When Georgia's dad (Alan Davies) gets a great promotion situated in New Zealand, the family faces a crisis - not least in Georgia's eyes when the interior designer who turns up during dad's initial absence seems to be the target of her mum's (Karen Taylor) attentions. But it's two new boys at school who cause the most fluster, as Georgia is smitten by Bobbie (Aaron Johnson) and Jas by his brother Tom (Sean Bourke). Trouble is, Bobbie already has a girlfriend, the blonde, slinky - and possessive - Lindsay (Kimberley Nixon).
Review by Louise Keller:
If you're a cat lover, chances are you'll fall in love with Angus, the long-haired grey feline scene stealer that allows himself to be dressed and moulded into the perfect companion and accessory. But there's plenty more to enjoy about this likeable coming of age film in which Georgia Groome's awkward fourteen year old Georgia negotiates her tragic universe in an endearing and funny film about girls, boys, parents and those well described topics of the title. Like her 2002 hit Bend It Like Beckham, Gurinder Chadha's latest film excels at capturing a sense of place and involves us in the emotional reality of her characters.
When we first meet Georgia on her way to a fancy dress party, she is dressed like a stuffed olive, but shrivels with humiliation when her best friend Jas (Eleanor Tomlinson) decides on a more glamorous costume instead of going down the dressing-like-a-vegetable route. After all, boys don't rate funniness. It seems that boys go for blondes with curves (albeit false) who wear brightly coloured thongs under their school uniform, like so-called Slagging Lindsay (Kimberley Nixon) from 'Vulgaria', who has snapped up the attention of Robbie (Aaron Johnson) one of the Sex God brothers recently moved from Cosmopolitan London to beach-side Eastbourne. This is a very different Eastbourne from the one portrayed as God's Waiting Room. There's a buzzing promenade, neat rows of houses with plenty of flowers, sunshine and oodles of atmos. Chadha concentrates on the close friendships between the girls, the bitchiness, the jealousies and the joyous innocence as they wonder about the pursuit of Perfect Snogging and even take instruction to avoid a kiss that avoids the washing machine syndrome.
Groome is a knock out as the self-doubting Georgia who is confronted not only by hormone-induced emotional upheaval, but by the threat of the stability of her parents' relationship and a possible location move to New Zealand, the home of 'nothing but sheep and hobbits'. All the players are excellent and I especially liked Aaron Johnson as the object of Georgia's desire. I also like the idea of The Angus Advantage, a tactic which cat lovers will appreciate. Awkwardness, the first kiss, parents from the stone age and having a nose the size of Jupiter have never been so compelling as in this fresh and funny film.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Gurinder Chadha is best known for her charming film about young women, Bend It Like Beckham, and here she shows that same flair, balancing the charm with the real issues that her characters have to deal with. Although aimed at 10 - 14 year old females, the film actually works on other levels as a story about growing up but also as a story about the importance of maturity in relationships. The biggest lesson Georgia learns is to stop being selfish like a child who sees little else than the target of their 'want'.
Chadha knows the importance of casting and has done a great job fitting young acyors into their roles for an entertaining, engaging and not always predictable story. Her excellent casting choices also extend to Barney the cat, who plays Angus of the title. The relevance is that a love of cats is one of the obvious things that Georgia has in common with Bobbie. Angus, the pug nosed, long haired chocolate brown cat, steals his every scene, whether wearing a cowboy outfit or some spaghetti strands, thanks to Georgia's little sister having dress up fun with him. As for the other items in the title, thongs are not footwear but skimpy nickers, and perfect snogging is what all young girls aspire to experience as soon as possible.
Georgia Groome and her two co-stars make a great trio of different yet value-sharing friends who are as vulnerable and uncertain about boys as boys are about girls. There is plenty of fun but always grounded in serious subjects, and the parents play an unexpectedly important role in the story.
Well written and well executed, the film delivers what it sets out to.
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ANGUS, THONGS AND PERFECT SNOGGING (PG)
CAST: Georgia Groome, Eleanor Tomlinson, Manjeeven Grewal, Aaron Johnson, Alan Davies, Georgia Henshaw, Ingrid Oliver
PRODUCER: Gurinder Chadha
DIRECTOR: Gurinder Chadha
SCRIPT: Paul Mayeda Berges, Gurinder Chadha, Will Robb, Chris Viscardi
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Dick Pope
EDITOR: Justin Krish
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Nick Ellis
RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: TAS: September 11, 2008; elsewhere September 18, 2008