Directed by: Gurinder Chadha
Written by: Gurinder Chadha, Paul Mayeda Berges, Will McRobb, Chris Viscardi
Starring: Georgia Groome, Alan Davies, Karen Taylor, Aaron Johnson, Eleanor Tomlinson
Different eras in our lives cause us to have a different set of priorities. When adulthood arrives, much of the focus goes towards money because it makes the world go round. Similarly, everything changes if one decides to have kids, and they become the priority. During the teenage years, that priority could be something as trivial as having a boyfriend and throwing a birthday party that everyone wants to attend. Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging embraces these adolescent priorities as our protagonists try to manage primary school and the pressures of their social lives.
Georgia Nicholson (Georgia Groome) is like many teenage girls where the most important aspect of her life revolves around her looks, how others perceive her, and if she can snag a boyfriend. She, along with her best friends, are trying to have it all, but their main obstacle remains fighting off their insecurities. That particularly seems to be Georgia’s main concern, as she hates the size of her nose and wishes she had bigger breasts. Additionally, as her birthday arrives, she wishes to have it in a club so that everyone will attend, and to make it even more perfect, have a boyfriend on her arm.
Despite following much of the basic tropes in a story like this, the script of this film provides plenty of wit and funny moments between the characters. It makes complete sense that someone like Gurinder Chadha, widely known for her other film about teenage girls, Bend It Like Beckham, directed this feature. She has a great eye for showing what these girls truly want and how what may seem trivial consumes them entirely. Chadha captures that child-like euphoria that makes these topics so important for young girls. It also certainly helps that she left out some of the more unsavory elements from the book. I personally have not read it but my wife has and she mentioned all of the casual racism our protagonist has towards Asian folks and her very homophobic viewpoints. Thankfully, Chadha realized that it was completely unnecessary to keep this for the feature.
This film works, because the audience experiences the story through the mind of Georgia, which allows us to empathize with her even when her desire to be wanted starts to harm others. It feels like she lives in a fantasy world, especially when she and her friends call these two boys they are crushing on “Sex Gods,” despite never having sex or knowing about the boys’ history. It simply comes from their appearance and their hyperbolic assumption that because they’re cute, they embody perfection in every single way.
Then it goes to their attempts to learn how to snog, which essentially signifies making out with another person. They care so much that they go to a specialist entrusted to teach others how to snog, in what makes for a fairly gross, but hilarious scene. It brings us all back to childhood when we cared so much about things that seem so childish now. As a teenage boy, I obsessed about how I look and how others perceive me because it meant the world to me. The thoughts these girls have are perfectly normal and part of the teenage experience. As funny as these characters might be, they capture a way of thinking that many have undeniably held, which makes the viewing experience a bit cringy but also honest.
Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging provides plenty of charm even with how formulaic it may be. It became the first film produced by children’s channel Nickelodeon to have a PG-13 rating. The film certainly has more racy elements than one would think a Nickelodeon film would have. Even with all of the cringe moments, the film taps into a way of thinking we have always held. People always want to be or have more. Whether that be our looks, finances, or social standing, we’re never truly satisfied with who we are without realizing how well we have it. Georgia has a wonderful life with parents that support her and friends that have her back, and despite all of that she feels like a complete loser when it comes to life. It’s a sentiment that we can all connect to, which makes this film something enjoyable to watch.