I’ve noticed that a lot of this film’s reviews begin the same way, something like, “I was dreading the prospect of having to watch a romantic comedy aimed at teenaged girls,” and then going on to confess how much they liked it.
I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I have no strong prejudice against teen romantic comedies (I liked 16 Candles, for example), and I’d heard good thing about the long-running series of books (by Louise Rennison) that inspired this movie. In fact a couples of years ago I gave the first volume to someone as a Christmas present, mainly because I liked its title: Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging. (The film distributor apparently preferred a less-explicit adjective.)
The setting is Eastbourne, a city on the English Channel southeast of London, where Georgia Nicolson is a fairly typical 14-year-old: self-absorbed, worried about her looks, obnoxious to her parents, and constantly embarrassing herself one way or another. But she’s more cluelessly thoughtless than malicious and feels genuinely sorry when she realizes that she’s hurt someone. The actress who plays her, Georgia Groome, is excellent in the role.
Georgia’s best friend Jas (Eleanor Tomlinson) is a nice person and quite beautiful. When Jas asks Georgia if her hair looks OK, Georgia assures her it’s “Keira Knightley-ish,” which is a bit of an in-joke. The same director, Gurinder Chadha, had previously made Bend It Like Beckham, in which the female protagonist also had a beautiful best friend, in that film played by Keira Knightley.
Georgia likes a new boy in school, but unfortunately he’s already been snagged by the school’s most notorious hot blonde, so in an effort to compete, Georgia enrolls for kissing lessons from a boy in her class who has had the genius idea of setting himself up as a snogging tutor. (Why the hell didn’t I think of that when I was in junior high?) Meanwhile, Georgia’s father’s boss sends him to New Zealand on an extended assignment and her mother spends a lot of time with the muscularly handsome young fellow helping her refurbish and redecorate their home, which puts Georgia in a panic that her parents are headed for divorce.
Angus, by the way, is Georgia’s huge, scowling tomcat, a menacing beast who chases neighborhood dogs but patiently allows Georgia’s little sister to dress him up in costumes from bride to cowboy.
The story is admittedly unsophisticated, the comic bits very silly, and the ending a huge, implausible contrivance, but it was all enough fun I didn’t mind.