A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the 2008 British film Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging is a comic look at teenagers working their way through the confusing and treacherous stop along the way that is adolescence. Dating, friendship, divorced parents, selfishness, honesty, peer pressure, kissing, and sexual urges are all examined here by brave 14- through 16-year-olds. One boy offers his services as a kissing coach to multiple female clients, and lots of serious kissing by fully-clothed kids is seen. A girl claims to be gay in order to discourage a male suitor. Language includes "bitch," "ass," and "bazooms." Girls perform the "pencil test," each girl pushing her own breasts toward the middle to see if a pencil will stay up or fall to the ground. The very top of a girl's thong is shown for less than a second. A boy admits that the first thing he looks at in a girl is her breasts.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
As ANGUS, THONGS AND PERFECT SNOGGING opens, 14-year-old Georgia walks into a costume party dressed like a rotund cocktail olive. The other female teen guests have gone the more conventional route -- sexy devils in shorts red skirts, for example. To her dismay, even the good friends who promised to also come as hors d'ouevres opted for hot. And so the movie, directed by Gurinder Chadha (Bend it Like Beckham), establishes the tightrope walk between the comforting world of childish fun and play and the judgmental, sexually-oriented world of adulthood. Georgia (Georgia Groome) and Jas (Eleanor Thomlinson) eye two new 16-year-old boys at school, Tom (Sean Bourke) and his brother Robbie (Aaron Johnson). Jas reels Tom in quickly, leaving Georgia to plot and scheme to make Robbie hers. This requires sneakier moves -- pretending Georgia's lost her cat -- as Robbie already has a girlfriend. Unfortunately that girl is the ethically questionable, pretty blond Lindsay (Kimberley Nixon), a school bully. Robbie, attracted to the quirky Georgia, is torn. He kisses Georgia and it looks as if he will sever ties with Lindsay, but when he doesn't call , it becomes clear he hasn't made the move. Georgia must resort to ever more questionable strategies until she finds herself lying and hurting people in order to get Robbie for herself. To her credit, even Georgia sees that she's become no better than the terrible Lindsay in her selfish quest. All the while, her father's promotion threatens to move the whole family to New Zealand. Parental sacrifice, love of family, and general decency all play roles in a happy ending.
Is it any good?
This movie is an offbeat look at adolescence that will resonate with kids experiencing the same issues. It predates the social media phenomenon, presenting a quaint and instructive world of teenage angst notably devoid of smartphones, internet, and the 24/7 pressures they represent in teen lives today, a few short years later. Nevertheless, not much has changed. Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging falls down where it tries to make a comic meal of clichéd adolescent ignorance. Georgia thinks her parents monitor her activities not for safety reasons but because, "They hate my having a life while theirs is practically over." And, as in every other coming-of-age movie, teens are obsessed with their looks. Georgia thinks her nose is "the size of Jupiter." The boys wear early Justin Bieber hair. To help them understand the incomprehensible, girls invent the "ten stages of snogging," a list that includes open-mouthed kissing and upper-body fondling. And they rate each other's physical attractiveness. They offer advice on how to talk to boys – speak in a low, sexy voice and don't be too funny -- and they employ strategies to make themselves more attractive. One uses a razor on her eyebrows and accidentally shaves half of one off. In the attempts to make sense of the confusing world of adult relations, kids behave both meanly and nicely. Through all of this, Georgia hovers between idiotic and wise. Kids young enough to appreciate her may be too young to hear all the graphic descriptions about kissing and bazooms.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the ways in which teens learn about adult life. Georgia's parents are openly affectionate in Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging, which grosses her out at 14. Do you think that years later she may look back at their strong bond as a positive example of how to be in a relationship?
How does this movie differ from the many other movies about teens learning about sex and adult relationships?
Why is growing up such a popular theme in books and movies?
- In theaters: July 28, 2008
- On DVD or streaming: January 19, 2010
- Cast: Georgia Groome, Aaron Johnson, Eleanor Thomlinson
- Director: Gurinder Chadha
- Studio: Paramount Home Media Distribution
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 100 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: for suggestive content involving young teens, and language