Gregory (John Gordon Sinclair) is a tall, gangly teenager who finds himself smitten with the athletic Dorothy (Dee Hepburn) who has stolen his place on the school football team. But Gregory is a typically awkward teenager who knows nothing about girls and his various friends are of little help as he sets about trying to ask her out. But Dorothy like on the football pitch is one step ahead of him, well aware of Gregory's awkward fondness for her and so sets about setting him up with her friend Susan (Clare Grogan).
Whilst the 80s saw John Hughes corner the market in teen coming of age dramas with his fun teen comedies it was Bill Forsyth who set the benchmark high with "Gregory's Girl". As such when I describe "Gregory's Girl" as another coming of age teen drama about the awkwardness of young love it's not being derogatory because that is what it is. But with its Scottish setting and young Scottish cast of ordinary teenagers it has a surprising charm about it, a cuteness matched by the comedy of an awkward teenager dealing with his nervous feelings for an attractive young girl.
The thing about "Gregory's Girl" is that unlike the teen comedies from across the pond it feels raw and low budget, if you like less polished but that is why it is so good. Watching Gregory's awkwardness around Dorothy comes across as real but is also so concentrated that it is funny with his gangly walk and hesitance at asking Dorothy out. It is all so real but also so funny and anyone can watch this and remember their own first tentative down the turbulent road of teenage romance, the sweaty palms and shaky voice the first time you asked someone out after rehearsing what to say for a week before.
It is because it is all so real that "Gregory's Girl" connects with the audience the minute it starts, from the minute we first meet the awkward Gregory to the friendship he has with the other lads. But Bill Forsythe doesn't just deliver teenage comedy he does some marvellous things with his limited budget with great use of local settings. He also throws in some utter daftness including the almost surreal scene featuring a penguin walking down the school corridor. And that is just one of the many hilarious scenes which fill this delightful movie which includes a hilarious homosexual reference when Gregory and his friend Steve are in home economics and he tells him he is in love over a bowl of cake mix.
Now I have mentioned that "Gregory's Girl" has a rawness about it and that is so true from all of its young cast who deliver awkward performances be it John Gordon Sinclair and Dee Hepburn or Clare Grogan as her friend Susan. But the awkwardness and rawness of their performances makes the movie, they ground it in reality whilst the writing lifts it to the level of entertainment.
What this all boils down to is that "Gregory's Girl" is probably the best British movie which has taken on the tale of young love. Even now over 30 years later after its release it is still sharp, amusing and real.