Angus, Tuxedos & Perfect Dancing
The first thing which probably grabs your attention even before you watch "Angus" is the stars, here we have a movie which features grown up stars Kathy Bates, George C. Scott and Anna Levine but then you have young stars James Van Der Beek, Chris Owen, Ariana Richards and Charlie Talbert. It is the star names which are most likely going to lead you to watch because "Angus" is not really a well known movie. But then "Angus" has something more than these names and faces it has a storyline about teenage growing pains where we follow a child finding school, friends and their romantic feelings and fears becoming all consuming. The thing is that often these sort of teen movies focus on teenage girls dealing with their issues but "Angus" is about a boy who is struggling because he is fat, teased and treated as being not normal.
14 year old Angus (Charlie Talbert) is finding school difficult because he is fat and the schools cool kid Rick (James Van Der Beek - Mrs. Miracle) takes pleasure in teasing and bullying him and his best friend Troy (Chris Owen). Angus has another problem as well as he secretly loves school beauty Melissa (Ariana Richards - Jurassic Park) but is so down on himself he doesn't believe she could ever like him. Things come to ahead when Rick plays a prank so that Angus is voted Winter Ball King alongside Melissa who is Queen setting him up for complete and utter public humiliation at the school dance.
So as I said the difference with "Angus" to so many other teen movies is that the focus is on a boy who is struggling with feeling the odd one out. As such we see the various things that a young boy has to deal with at school, being teased, bullied, feeling lonely with a geeky friend whilst having secret feelings for the beautiful girl who doesn't look at him twice. And all of this is very real, these are issues which may be embellished for laughs but are those teenage boys have to deal with when they don't fit in with what is seen as normal.
Now the embellishments are typically of the humorous variety. When Angus has to get a tuxedo for the Winter Ball the only one in his size at "Big & Tall" is plum in colour. And when the bullies decide to pick on Angus's best friend Troy he ends up getting stuffed in the locker. They are amusing embellishments which to be honest you will see in numerous other movies but work nicely in a low key sort of way. I say low key because the focus of "Angus" is not on making you laugh but to understand the issues which Angus is dealing with and understanding what he realises.
Now I won't go into any detail of what happens as the Winter Ball approaches but trust me it doesn't take a genius to work out who comes out of this in a good way and who ends up getting what they deserve. But there is a really nice moment when Angus ties in a science experiment to his experience which to put simply is when something different is placed into a solution of normal that thing different either has to stand its ground and the normal around it has to change or end up being rejected. It is a forced message but still a very positive and powerful one for teen boys and girls who feel like they are different and being bullied and forced out for being different.
As for the acting well "Angus" is all about the young stars as the older ones such as Kathy Bates, George C. Scott and Anna Levine end up in purely supporting roles. So that means we have Charlie Talbert at the centre of all this as Angus who is full of anger as he is constantly teased and bullied and Talbert gives a fine performance of a young boy dealing with this as well as his feeling for Melissa. Talking of which whilst Ariana Richards as Melissa doesn't have a lot to do for most of the movie really comes into her own at the end with a beautiful series of scenes that she shared with Talbert. Adding to this you have James Van Der Beek who plays the school Jock who bullies Angus but then you have Chris Owen as Angus's best friend Troy who steals so many scenes purely because he looks so much like Fievel from the carton "An American Tail".
What this all boils down to is that "Angus" takes us through various teenage trials and tribulations like so many other movies do but because the focus is on a fat boy proving that being different is okay makes it that little bit more interesting. And whilst from an adult's point of view it forces the delivery of the positive message it is perfect for teenage boys to watch and feel encouraged if they are dealing with feeling different and being bullied.