Turn Back the Clock
Distributed by: Warner Bros.
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Years ago, I was watching television when I spotted previews for a movie about an overweight kid struggling to fit in with an infatuation for the prettiest girl in his school. The movie featured such notable co-stars as Kathy Bates and George C. Scott. The previews looked pretty funny, but I didn't get to see the film until it came to cable television. After watching it on TV, I couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy of Angus so I could watch it again.
Based on the short story, A Brief Moment in the Life of Angus Bethune by Chris Crutcher, Angus stars then newcomer Charlie Talbert as Angus Bethune, an incredibly intelligent, athletic, overweight teenager well into his freshman year of high school. All his life, Angus has been ridiculed by popular kid Rick Sanford (James Van Der Beek, also making his film debut).
Rick has always been handsome, fairly good at school and popular with the cool kids, including the object of Angus' desire, Melissa Lefevre (Ariana Richards), the prettiest girl in school. Though tough enough to put Rick in his place time and time again, Angus has been too insecure to even speak a word to Melissa. His only friend in school is Troy Wedberg (Chris Owen). Skinny with bright red hair, freckles and big ears, Troy is another member of the "geek" sect and makes the perfect counterpart for Angus.
Despite excelling at school and in football, Angus feels alienated and wants to leave. He applies to and gets an interview for a new school where he believes his aptitude for science will grant him the acceptance he so desires. Meanwhile, Rick has other plans for Angus. He convinces people to vote Angus in as the Winter Ball's King of the Dance. And who might be the Queen of the Dance? Yup, you guessed it: Melissa Lefevre.
Angus is horrified, but his grandfather (George C. Scott), an elderly man set to marry a woman twenty years his junior (Anna Thomas), gives him the best advice he'll ever need in life: if people can't accept Angus for who he is...screw 'em! Angus' truck driving single mom (Kathy Bates) worries for him, but Angus is determined to follow his grandfather's advice, until tragedy strikes and forces Angus to make a choice that could possibly change his whole life.
Now, sure the movie's ending is predictable, but it is how we get there that makes Angus one of those movies you want to watch again and again. It isn't the slamming score featuring songs by Weezer, Green Day, Ash, The Goo Goo Dolls and more. It isn't cinematography or big name actors or special effects. This is a heartfelt, uplifting story that anyone, of any age, can relate to. Maybe you were that high school geek...maybe you are now...or maybe you were the popular kid with a secret. We all have seen or experienced what it is like to be different from the so-called "norm" and can relate to the main character of this movie.
Angus isn't just a film about a fat kid trying to fit in, it's a movie with a message. First message: be who you are. The grass is always greener in someone else's yard, but when you get to their yard, you'll find small imperfections. Perhaps there is something hiding behind that greenery. Maybe that grass suffers the same issues yours does. Second, bravery comes in all forms. Sure, there's the bravery of the valiant knight who engages in battle successfully, but there is also bravery in facing one's fears and striving to conquer them...in getting back up every time someone pushes you down. Thirdly, and most importantly, is that there is no such thing as normal. Just because the so-called "norm" looks a certain way and acts a certain way, it doesn't mean that the "norm" is any better than you are. Being different is a gift to be treasured. Who wants to be a clone of acceptable society? Being different makes you unique. You should embrace your uniqueness and take pride in who you are.
I've watched this film a number of times and still can't seem to get enough of it, especially that predictable, yet not so predictable ending. In fact, I just watched the movie again on the DVD version that I was finally able to get my hands on. My only regret is that this version doesn't feature any of the deleted scenes. There are a lot of scenes featured in the trailer that never made the actual film. I got to see them when the TNT Network aired Angus and I wonder at the fact that they are not on the Warner Bros. Archive Collection DVD.
Despite my mild annoyance at the fact that the DVD version lacks the scenes deleted from the final cut, I still recommend buying it. Angus is an uplifting film with themes that are relevant to today's world and one that every parent should watch with their kids.