Angus

1995, PG-13, 90 min. Directed by Patrick Read Johnson. Starring Charlie Talbert, George C. Scott, Kathy Bates, Rita Moreno, Ariana Richards, Chris Owen, Lawrence Pressman.

REVIEWED By Hollis Chacona, Fri., Sept. 22, 1995

If you are one of those rare birds who recall their high school days with trilling glee or cooing fondness, Angus is probably not your cup of moo juice. If, though, the simple clanging of a locker door can give you shudders, you will probably find this little movie familiar and oddly comforting. Angus (Charlie Talbert) is smart, sensitive, courageous… and… fat. His widowed mother is a big-rig truck driver, his grandfather an irascible 74-year-old about to wed a woman 30 years his junior, and his best (and only) friend a pint-sized Howdy Doody look-alike with an affinity for James Bond. In short, Angus Bethune is one humongous square peg. The story is certainly not new -- you know the ending before you even step into the theatre -- and it suffers from a few too many “Yeah, right” reality gaps, but Johnson's telling of it holds your attention nonetheless. Angus' nemesis, Rick Sanford (James Van der Beek), leads a seemingly golden life: He's handsome, athletic, class president, going with the girl of Angus' dreams, and has won the free tickets to the Green Day concert. Still not content, Rick savors his role as Angus' personal tormentor and plans a crowning finale to his life-long rein of ridicule. That Angus wins the day will come as no surprise, but the way that he wins it just may. Newcomer Talbert (discovered by the director at an Illinois Wendy's) at times reveals his inexperience in front of the camera, but his Angus has a palpable decency and a valiant heart. Bates as his mother and Scott as Grandpa Ivan bring an eccentric dignity and intimate, credible affection to the big screen. From the terrific credit sequence to the solid performances to the high-profile soundtrack, Johnson has fashioned an affecting picture with an endearing, unlikely hero. And while it never really pushes the envelope, Angus does manage to give some square edges to that confining round hole.

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