I’m actually super impressed with you at the moment. Yes, you, dear reader. Know why? Because you willingly (or maybe you were coerced; I really don’t know how you ended up on our site in the first place) clicked on a link that almost certainly had the words “thongs” and “snogging” in it, even though you most likely had no idea who Angus was. (He’s a cat.) And I think that shows courage on your part, because you’re bracing yourself for the inevitable wave of tampons and estrogen that’s about to rain down on your head.
Well, fear not, dear reader. I fully intend for this to be the only romantic comedy I ever review. And if, by some wild stretch of the imagination, I end up gushing on about some Ryan Gosling piece six months from now, I give you permission to say nasty things in the comments section. (But not too mean, please; I’m a delicate flower and I cry easily.)
So I got home from a rough day at work, made some chicken fingers and tater tots, because balanced diets are overrated, and sat down in front of the TV to watch something. I fully intended to write you a Stargate Atlantis: Season 2 review tonight, but upon booting up Netflix and noticing the rather cheeky title Angus, Thongs, and Perfect Snogging, I couldn’t resist. I mean, it has “snogging” in the name. Incidentally, how good a word is “snogging”? Seriously.
The story takes place in what I originally thought was London, but apparently it’s someplace called Eastbourne, which is still in England, which means everyone has accents, which is just splendid. The main character is an almost-fifteen-year-old named Georgia, and following a disastrous Halloween party, she becomes convinced that no boy will ever want to date her. So she accidentally shaves off half an eyebrow, which is shortly followed by her getting mad at her parents for being lovey-dovey because they’re ancient (meaning they’re over thirty) and because they won’t book a birthday party for her at a club full of randy old guys wearing man-jewelry. All I could think was, “Sweetie, that’s precious. They’re not going to let you into a club. You are fifteen.” And then she points out all the things she hates about her life.
Then there’s a discussion about snogging (which, for all you Yanks, is kissing), which also contains a sidebar about getting felt up. (!) As Georgia and her friend Jas tell their awestruck groupies, Ellen and Blonde Girl (I bothered to learn Ellen’s name because I felt uncomfortable and oddly racist for calling her “Indian Chick”), there are ten levels of snogging. One is holding hands, which means you’re doing it wrong. Two is arms around the waist, which is still wrong. Three is the goodnight kiss, which is somewhat more correct but awfully polite. Four is a kiss lasting over three minutes without breath, which escalated quickly and also isn’t physically possible, to the best of my knowledge. Five is open-mouth kissing. Six is TONGUES, followed by a chorus of “ewwww.” Seven is upper-body fondling outdoors. (There doesn’t seem to be a stage where that happens indoors, so you’re skipping straight from Frenching to exhibitionism.)
And it seems I’ll never find out what stages eight through ten are, because that’s when two well-beyond-fit boys walk in. Then the girls get binoculars, follow them around town, and hatch schemes so that Jas and Georgia can talk to said dishy boys (because they’ve got first dibs). They don’t seem to realize that they’re making a nuisance of themselves or that they’re behaving—well, exactly like teenage girls.
My first impression of the boys is that Tom, one of the boys—twin brothers, actually—seems extremely attractive, if a bit bland, personality-wise. The other boy, Robbie, seems like he might be gay. Also, he reminds me of Percy Jackson. Also, he calls his cat Jubbly. I don’t know what’s up with that; it’s quite a silly name. And after Georgia has what she thinks is a successful conversation with Robbie, she discovers that he is dating a nasty girl named Slaggy Lindsay. (I’m pretty sure it doesn’t say “Slaggy” on her birth certificate, though.) So Georgia decides to visit a boy who’s quite adept in the field of tonguing. He is a make-out teacher, is what I mean. He makes out with girls for half an hour to teach them technique. Why was this not a thing when I was fourteen.
Georgia learns that her technique is excellent, and she immediately pursues Robbie with a scheme involving her cat and Jas, who’s got her eyes fixed on Tom. The plan seems to be, “Let’s show Robbie how un-fake I am by performing a clever ploy that’s totally not fake at all.” It results in her and Robbie spending time together, but while Tom asks Jas out on a date, Robbie does no such thing for Georgia.
And after a single date, Tom and Jas start hanging out all the time and snogging in the street. Jas drops her friends to hang out with Tom, Robbie, and Slagathor, who is, by the rules of girldom, the last person in the world she’s allowed to hang out with. Worst of all, Jas starts wearing a thong, just like Lindsay. This leads to a falling-out later on, and while Georgia is accused of being jealous, I can’t help but side with her on the whole “chicks before d*cks” issue.
And then there’s a party, and Make-Out Boy announces that he’s mad about Georgia. So he tackles her into the bushes, which hikes her skirt up over her legs and shows off her granny panties. While Robbie is walking by. With Slag and Tom and Jas. That’s like 90% of the reason I never wear skirts. Georgia tries to explain things the next day at the pool, and due to an unfortunate incident with self-tanner, she and Robbie end up kissing. And for some reason it looks more awkward than when Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams do it, but it’s still pretty cute—right up until Robbie announces he has to deal with some stuff, so see you later.
Georgia finds out that Robbie, who’s in a band called the Stiff Dylans (is that a euphemism?), is performing that night. To get back at him for never calling her, she asks out Robbie’s friend Dave, who’s actually kind of a tosser. Of course he can’t be a normal guy, because then we’d be rooting for the two of them to get together instead. And that’s kind of sad, because he’s really just an earnest kind of guy who really likes her and is just too immature to handle anything. And Georgia shuts Dave down after using him to make Robbie jealous, at which point I decided that she was treating people badly for her own purposes and that she needed a good lesson at once.
And that’s the point when Jas and Robbie call her out on all her crap. “You scared Robbie away with all your scheming and pretending,” says Jas. “And you said Lindsay was fake.” And Robbie says, “You’re just a kid. You only think about yourself.” The collective beat-down results in Georgia suffering a bit and finally pulling herself together, which creates some nice character growth. I wasn’t a fan of the yoga and the listening to dolphin sounds, but I can understand the feeling that she wants to change herself, and I admire her for being able to follow through on it.
Following a breakup with Slaggy, Robbie and Georgia finally get together. And then it’s Georgia’s birthday, and somehow she’s managed to have a surprise birthday party at a nightclub with literally a thousand people, while Lindsay, who scheduled her party the same night, has two friends show up (because that’s totally the way it works in real life). Georgia and Robbie are happy, Georgia and Jas are friends again, and everything is just generally excellent. Until Lindsay shows up and pitches a colossal hissy, that is.
That’s the one part of the movie I really don’t like, because up until now, the story has strong differences from all the other teenage romantic comedies I’ve seen. For one thing, the actress playing Georgia actually looks fourteen. For another, she’s cute but has a big nose, which sells the “no boy will want to date me” thing far better than a pair of oversized glasses and flawless skin underneath. She demonstrates social awkwardness through conversation, not through physical clumsiness, and she’s absolutely flawed in a lot of major ways (like blatantly planning to steal another girl’s boyfriend).
But the major antagonist in the story is the classic, iconic b*tch: Lindsay stuffs her bra, she has blonde hair and a blank personality, and she intimidates younger girls—who normally would be no threat to a mature, stable relationship—into staying away from her boyfriend. In front of her boyfriend. Yes, we all went to school with awful girls who treated the boys like crap and somehow ended up with the ones we liked anyway. It happens. I won’t pretend to know how that works, because I don’t, but it’s a thing. I guess I just don’t like seeing it repeated over and over in film, because it makes me wonder if all girls who deal with b*tches in high school grow up to become directors (and if so, where is all my money).
So the hissy. Lindsey insists she’s perfect for Robbie, even though there’s been absolutely no indication up to this point that that’s the case, and demands that he choose between her and Georgia. Sweetie, he’s playing guitar at Georgia’s party. He wrote a song for her. It’s transparently obvious who he chose, and you showing up here was no more than a dramatic device to emphasize the fact that he liked Georgia for her madness, not her bazoombas.
The scene ends with a classic b*tch storm-out, which transitions into a voiceover of Georgia, musing about how right her life has now become. A few things to note: “I have really top friends that put up with me, even when I act dim. Which I’m not going to do anymore.” Yes, you are. You still have several more years of being dim ahead of you, and you’ll probably be dim until you hit your forties, because that’s how people work. So I guess you’re just lucky that you hit upon an awesome group of people who love you for all your flaws.
Also, “I don’t care about looking perfect. It’s so overrated.” I can’t even pick out all the things wrong with this. Girls try to look perfect every day. They struggle with eating disorders of all kinds, experiment with hair dye and makeup that’ll make their hair fall out and turn their skin funny colours, spend hundreds of dollars on clothes that are “in” now but won’t be in six months… girls are expected to look a certain way. And the breezy statement, “it’s overrated,” just makes light of that. Girls do it to be acceptable to each other, but as a general rule, they’re doing it for the guys. Which leads to the next point.
“I don’t need a nose job or blonde hair. ‘cause my sex-job boyfriend likes me just the way I am.” That, coming right after the “looking perfect” bit, sets my teeth on edge. A significant chunk of this movie is focusing on what boys think of you. We were supposed to get the message that you need to accept yourself before someone else can, but this just ended up enforcing the fact that a girl’s self-worth lies in what her boyfriend (or really any boy) thinks of her.
At the start of the film, one of the girls says, “We have to know ourselves to know how boys see us.” No. You need to know yourself so you can live with yourself outside of another person. One of the girls says, “You need to be emotionally sorted to be ready for a boyfriend.” Because if you build your identity and your life around another person, what are you going to do when they leave? Whether just going to the office for the day, leaving for a long-term trip, moving away, breaking up with you, or even dying, that person will eventually leave, whether temporarily or permanently. I’m the kind of person who hopes for forever, but the reality is that you need to be a person of your own before you can be the kind of person someone else wants to be with. But that can’t be for them; it needs to be for you.
Teenage girls are an entirely unique breed. They speak in French or lower their voices because they think it sounds cool. They spend hours analyzing what “see you later” means. They don’t see why they’re not allowed in grown-up places. They think makeup will instantly transform them into a person that boys will like, and that magazines will teach them how to interact with said boys. They agonize and practice and prepare before they get their first kiss, and they’re still utterly unprepared for it when it happens. They are remarkably self-involved, and they will never be able to help that. But I have a few pieces of advice for you, teenage girls, on the off-chance you’re reading this (although you kinda shouldn’t be, because language), because I made a big mess of things when I was fourteen, and I learned some stuff that teenage rom-coms don’t teach you.
- “It’s awful when you like someone and they don’t know how brilliant you are.” Seeing another girl with the person you like sucks. It’s happened to me a bunch of times, and sometimes more than once with the same guy. No, it isn’t fun. It has a way of making a crazy person out of you. You’re allowed to be upset. Just don’t take it out on the poor girl who’s dating him (or her). If you had your way, you’d be the happy one and she’d be the miserable one. Try a little empathy.
- Ignoring people you’re mad at doesn’t work. Face your problems head-on like a grown-up. I know you aren’t one yet, but you will be soon, and you should get a head start on problem management now.
- Moms can be pretty comforting. Check out Georgia’s mom. She knows what it’s all about. Every mom was a teenage girl mooning after a guy at some point, and she can understand better than anyone. Don’t make fun of yours or think she’s out of touch. Chances are, she’ll be pretty understanding.
- People say, “Everything seems important when you’re fifteen,” and the “seems” make it sounds dismissive or derogatory. It is important. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Yes, that person treated you like crap. It’s a big deal. Don’t be afraid to make it a big deal. (Unless it’s Christmas and you got the black iPhone instead of the white, in which case shut your face because I’ve got no sympathy for your b*tching on Twitter, yo.)
- Eventually you will use someone for selfish purposes, whether intentionally or by accident. It may be a friend you ask to get close to a guy for you. It may be a guy you use against another guy. It may be someone else altogether. And you will always feel guilty about the sh*t you put them through; you’ll never really forget it. Sometimes it’ll just kind of sneak up on you, reminding you that there was a point in your life when you did a really sh*tty thing to someone, and it’ll make you wonder if you might not be as nice a person as you always thought. It’s hard growing up and becoming someone you can live with, because you make so many stupid decisions along the way. But you’ll learn to live with it and to be a better person, because there’s no other alternative.
I’m not great with romantic movies. I’ve long had a philosophy that it’s easier to judge a relationship from outside of it. Like a soccer game, it’s easy for the spectators to make judgements and ask, “How could you not see that? It was right there in front of you.” But the players have a limited field of view. They can’t see everything all at once, only the stuff that’s literally five feet in front of them. And in relationships, whether real or fictional, I don’t understand that. I yell advice to the people on the TV screen. I ask them why they’re being so stupid, why they’re making such awful decisions, why they’re hurting the people around them for selfish reasons I can’t even comprehend.
But in Angus, Thongs, and Perfect Snogging, it was easier to understand all that. I could sympathize with Georgia and how desperately she just wanted someone to love her. It’s already hard enough being fourteen without feeling like a loser because everyone else looks perfect and has a boyfriend. But it’s not hard to shrink your world down to the single concern of “chasing boys.” It’s so, so incredibly easy to chase after them wholeheartedly, believing that everything will be okay if you can just get a boy to look at you in a certain way. And even if Angus didn’t quite hit the mark on the idea that you don’t need a boy (or a girl) to make you happy, everything else was absolutely spot-on.
And that explains the feeling of mild discomfort I felt while watching the movie: for an hour and a half, I was fourteen again. I was watching myself. I was cringing at all the mistakes I made. I laughed at the happy ending. And I was incredibly relieved that those days are far behind me, that I’m twenty-two and haven’t chased a guy in a long time and no longer want to, and that someone else had just as bad a time of it as I did. Even if she was just a girl in a movie.
Final Grade: A-
- Yes, we get it. All schools are loony bins. That’s not exactly a new concept.
- You have a cat in an organic food shop. That’s so many levels of wrong, I can’t even tell you. The health inspectors would have a collective aneurysm. All of them.
- Slag. Bazoombas. Lido. I don’t even know what a lido is, but Britain has such excellent words.
- Angus chasing a dog! I can’t even. That cat is even worse than mine.
- “The queen hasn’t got big bazoombas!” “Yes, she does.” I will never think of that little old lady the same way ever again.
- “I already feel fed up with boys, and I haven’t had anything to do with them yet.” GIRL I FEEL YOU.
- Good friends squeeze each other’s pimples. I’m now glad I didn’t have girl friends when I was fourteen.
- Georgia (rather distraught, and after being given a copy of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus): “Mum, I really don’t need to learn about astronomy right now.” And Jas’s impression of the book: “Isn’t that book American? Then it’ll be about American boys, won’t it.”
- Who does birthday cake first thing in the morning? Seriously, who?
- My impressions of the Jem side-story, as recorded in my notes: “Who’s THAT dishy gent who’s calling for Georgia’s mum? A builder with a lovely tush, apparently. BUT WAIT. WHY IS IT A SECRET FROM GEORGIA’S DAD… Wait, now Builder Boy isn’t wearing a shirt. Daaaamn. Wait, why is Mum wearing a thong?… What is Mum doing with Hot Guy? What is she wearing?… Okay, SERIOUSLY. Why is Jem helping with things? He had better just be the gayest, or Mum is basically the worst— YUP SO GAY. FANTASTIC.”
- Apparently “Ultraviolet” is, in fact, a Stiff Dylans song. Sounds like they’re a band that was either specifically created for the movie or was hired to play the movie and got mildly famous as a result aaaaand now that song is stuck in my head forever. Brilliant. That is all.