Gregory's Girl

1981

Gregory's Girl (1981)

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Movie Info

In this charming and frequently hilarious comedy, an awkward Scottish schoolboy is hopelessly in love with the independent female goalie who replaced him on the school soccer team. Luckily, he has a 10-year-old sister to whom he can turn for advice on love!

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Critic Reviews for Gregory's Girl

All Critics (16) | Top Critics (6)

Bill Forsyth, formerly a maker of industrial films, made Gregory's Girl for $400,000 with a cast of non-professionals. It provides more pure entertainment than many of Hollywood's overproduced epics.

Oct 22, 2018 | Full Review…

Much of the pic's peculiar fascination comes from tangential scenes, limning each character's odd obsession, be it food, girls, soccer, or just watching the traffic drive by.

Aug 6, 2007 | Full Review…
Variety
Top Critic

Quirky and utterly endearing.

Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

Maybe only grown-ups should see this movie. You know, people who have gotten over the pains of unrequited love (hollow laugh).

Oct 23, 2004 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

It floats effortlessly over its landscape, seeing all from a marvelously cockeyed perspective all its own.

May 20, 2003

It's hard to warm to a film as intentionally slight and safe as this.

Apr 20, 2001 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Gregory's Girl

½

I so don't get British humor.

Jennifer Xu
Jennifer Xu

Super Reviewer

½

There is only one thing negative I could say about Gregory's Girl...it makes you sad that the innocence of first love and first dates is gone forever, and also makes me wish my school had been as cool as Gregory's. Excellent performances by all and sundry, no attempts to sacrifice realism for laughs and Clare Grogan at her prettiest. Special mention must be given to the music, wonderfully twee and with a kind of nostalgic delight. Only Bill Forsyth seems able to avoid mawkishness yet still make utterly inoffensive and delectable movies. One of my top ten favourite films and one I never stop enjoying.

Cassandra Maples
Cassandra Maples

Super Reviewer

This movie was disappointing, it's not that bad, it's okay, it's just disappointing. It's an interesting look at young love, but it's not funny, and the story is kind of all over the place at times. Overall, it's just okay.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer

Most coming-of-age films are better remembered for the careers they launched rather than their artistic merits. It's difficult to talk about The Last Picture Show, American Graffiti or Stand By Me without focusing on the breakthrough performances of Jeff Bridges, Ron Howard and Kiefer Sutherland respectively. This is largely because -- with the possible exception of The Last Picture Show -- coming-of-age films are traditionally thin on plot, focussing on the age-old quests for cars, women and money. It takes something extraordinary, like City of God, to prevent this kind of film from becoming stagnant. Gregory's Girl is not extraordinary, at least not anymore. For not only are coming-of-age films relatively insubstantial, they also don't date very well. Ones like or dislike for such a film will depend on two things: whether it addresses the period in which you personally came of age, and whether or not it taps into any kind of 'universal truth' about the difficult passage to adulthood. Gregory's Girl attempts and generally succeeds on the second front, but it unconsciously relies on the first front so much that it is not an unqualified success. In many ways, Gregory's Girl is an antidote to many American films aimed at teenagers from the same period, which were potty-mouthed and looked at the more putrid side of adolescence. Where Animal House, Porkies and Revenge of the Nerds were content to serve up joke after joke about bodily fluids and the female anatomy, Gregory's Girl is far more gentle, focussing on the communication barrier between girls and boys. The film opens with a voyeuristic sequence of Gregory and his friends spying on a woman taking her bra off, but it's executed in such a such an underplayed and funny way that we aren't tempted to shout "Grow up!" at the screen. The film manages to put an interesting twist on the coming-of-age story, insofar as the younger children seem to be the most developed and mature out of everyone on screen. Gregory's younger sister, Madeleine (the 'Gregory's girl' of the title), is very mature for her age, and gives her 'hormonally challenged' brother astute tips on what to say and not say on a date. She also finds time for a teasing romance with her own suitor, although this little sub-plot is never explored for more than a couple of scenes. Contrast her maturity with the adolescent sniggering in the staffroom, where teachers boast about love letters from students and mock the PE teacher's moustache. Bill Forsyth's film has another big strength, which is that it doesn't allow any of the background elements of production to overwhelm the emotional power of the script. The budget was so low that many of the actors wore their own clothes, and the musical score is very minimal. Save for a few jazzy sections, which sound like off-cuts from a Steely Dan album, there is no real musical accompaniment to the dialogue, which makes the awkward conversations between Dorothy and Gregory to seem all the more awkward and realistic. Compare this to American Graffiti, whose jukebox soundtrack threatens to swamp George Lucas' already stodgy direction, and it's clear as to which is the better film. The central message of Gregory's Girl, which it delivers very solidly, is that the person we set our hearts on and fall in love with is not necessarily the person we are destined to be with. Having spent the first two thirds of the film pursuing (or attempting to pursue) Dorothy, Gregory is seemingly stood up on a date with her. Along comes one of her friends to pass on the news that something came up after school, and apologises on her behalf. Gregory is then led to a series of locations by alternating friends of Dorothy, winding up with him and Susan spending time together in the park. Susan is the first to admit that she wanted to date Gregory, and that Dorothy was simply a means of making that happen ("it's what girls do"). This is the emotional heart of the film, and is communicated without any sugary gloss or mawkish pay-off, allowing us to completely believe in the characters. Despite these advantages, Gregory's Girl is still problematic for the precise opposite reason of its American rivals. Where Porkies or Animal House often became too grisly and sleazy to remain appealing, Gregory's Girl rises and falls on our ability to tolerate both its whimsy and its quirkiness, neither of which are easy to sustain over 90 minutes. Unlike Forsyth's later films, like Local Hero and Comfort and Joy, there is very little in the way of darkness or heartbreak to balance out the moments of head-over-heels joy, not to mention the bizarre two-scene cameo by the man dressed as a penguin. The closest the film get to the genuine heartbreak which runs throughout teenage life is where Gregory is waiting under the clock, and that too is quickly dealt with by the arrival of the other girls. The narrative of the film is very simple, even if the pay-off is pleasantly unexpected. But its structure and focus is very meandering, with many unnecessary sub-plots being tentatively introduced and then remaining unexplored. As mentioned before, there is a fleeting suggestion of Madeleine having a relationship with a young boy of her age, who calls round to inquire about her. But after Gregory shoes him away, he never turns up again. The film could have been funnier if we saw her relationship being played out alongside Gregory's, enhancing the film's inverse relationship between sexual and emotional maturity. Then there are the supporting characters surrounding Gregory, who seem a little underwritten . Gregory's father, his frequently unlucky school friends, his pal from cookery class, and the window cleaner with the snazzy jacket, all come and go as they please. Their incidental nature is never justified beyond a basic need to keep the story focussed on the thrill of the central chase, and yet without these believable surrounding friends the chase becomes less thrilling. Many of these characters eventually become annoying, and the ending scene of two of them trying to hitch-hike to Caracas does feel like a bolt-on. Gregory's Girl is not Forsyth's best film, nor is it the best film about coming-of-age. But it's a happy, harmless and charming addition to the genre which has several memorable moments and a brutal honesty which in the end wins you over. It is also a timely reminder, with the recent death of John Hughes, that comedies aimed at teenagers do not need to be all crude jokes and contrived scenes of anarchy. At its worst points Gregory's Girl becomes too light and frothy for its own good, and it does play better to older viewers. But as a slice of nostalgic escapism, it's hard to fault and equally hard to hate.

Daniel Mumby
Daniel Mumby

Super Reviewer

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