There is a very specific kind of entertainment made for young people that they love, as it reflects the messy complications and swirling emotions of their times — and that parents loathe for almost entirely the same reason. This is the case with Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging, based on a popular series of British young adult novels that follow 14-going-on-15 Georgia Nicholson (Georgia Groome) as she navigates the rough and swollen hormone-oceans of early adolescence with only an innate sense of decency and three best friends (the 'Ace Gang Girls') to guide her. Georgia is in a substantial rush to grow up, and is going to make many, many mistakes along the way in pursuit of love and affection; this, in fact, is one of the things that makes Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging as enjoyable as it is; your early-teen daughters will enjoy Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging, but you may want to watch it alongside them so as to better moderate, discuss and deal with the issues it raises, a prospect you will find to be as necessary as they find it to be mortifying.
Director Gurinder Chahda previously put the 'pow!' in 'teen empowerment' with Bend it like Beckham, and the light, bright touch she brought to that film is very much in play here; adapting two of Louise Rennison's popular books, the screenplay, credited to four different writers, sails along on a series of likable performances and ace soundtrack selections that keep the episodic, event-driven story-line from moment to moment. And yet, those moments are nicely-put, and nicely-shaped; for all of Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging's talk of boys and sassy behavior (at times, the film plays like nothing less than a teen version of Sex and the City), the film also contains nice messages: be yourself, be decent, be good.
Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging contains a ludicrous number of extras — seriously, there are Oscar-nominated films from the past 20 years that don't have as many, or as well-made, extras as this slick, charming and likable teen film. There is full commentary by Chahda and the Ace Gang Girls, which sounds like eavesdropping on a slumber party; there are a number of featurettes on everything from the concern of dealing with a cat actor (the felines who play the "Angus" of the title) to the visual appearance of the film, a blooper reel, 8 deleted scenes and a music video. The number of extras is as head-scratching as it is impressive, until you realize that Rennison's books are something of a pop-culture phenomenon in Britain, and if you're going to shoot for a pre-existing audience, why not shoot with both barrels?
You may also want to watch Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging with your kids to translate the British-isms in it; at the same time, even with all the slang being chucked about — "fit," "snogging," "and "top," are all self-explanatory, even if I'm still trying to figure out what a 'minger' is — the concerns in it are fairly universal: getting along with one's family and friends, growing up, dealing with humiliation and the realization that, yes, one can do bad things in the pursuit of happiness and still, with hard work, put them right. Georgia Groome is a remarkably easy-to-watch actress — she can sell how Georgia's imperfect in many ways, but still suggest the striving struggler inside her hoping to do better that makes us want to watch, and root for, her. Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging may be a British import, but it works fairly well over on this side of the pod as a sassy parable for teens.