Grade: B-/B
Entire family: No
1981, 91 min., Color
Film Movement
Rated PG (for adult situations, some language, and brief frontal nudity)
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Featured audio: 2.0 Digital Stereo
Bonus features: B+
Amazon link

The Guardian called it “one of the most loved British films of all time.”

Time Out dubbed it “quirky and utterly endearing.”

The great Roger Ebert pronounced it “charming, innocent, very funny.”

And the critics were right. Gregory’s Girl is a sweet movie, a throwback to the even more wholesome ‘50s. But were ‘80s teens ever as sweet and innocent as they are in this BAFTA-winning film—one that Entertainment Weekly named #29 on their top 50 high school films? And how did one decade manage to have both the worst hair and the worst movie music? They’re both here on full display in this teen dramedy of the indie sort by Scottish writer-director Bill Forsyth (Local Hero).

Now, almost 40 years later, watching John Gordon Sinclair as Gregory, a geeky hormone-driven teen who falls hard for the first female player on his school’s soccer team, it’s hard to believe Gregory and his pals are for real. Aside from a Porky’s moment in the opening scene when a group of boys hide in trees outside an apartment to spy on a local nurse as she undresses, Gregory’s Girl is a pretty tame coming-of-age film. And that’s not a bad thing.

Gregory’s crush is kind of sweet, and though Dorothy (Dee Hepburn) replaces him at sweeper, relegating him to netminder, he’s still effusively a fan of girls playing on the boy’s team and especially a fan of this particular girl. Hilariously, while Gregory is stuck standing alone in his team’s net at the other end, after Dorothy scores her first goal all of his teammates group-hug her.  And in that celebratory hug that never seems to end, a few kisses on the cheek are snuck in for good measure—some by opposing players as well, wanting to get in on the action.

When the coach consults the head teacher about adding Dorothy permanently to the team, he asks, “What about the showers?” To which the coach responds, in a perfect cluelessness that matches Gregory’s, “Oh, she’ll bring her own soap.” That’s a sample of the humor to be found in this film, though the bulk of it tends to be comedy of character.

Gregory has a little Napoleon Dynamite in him, He’s a little backwards in his social development and a lot laid back. So is the pace of this film. Eighties’ movies tend to be slower paced than the current crop of indie flicks, and Gregory’s Girl focuses both on character and on reliving and experiencing a more innocent time, as perhaps symbolized by the walk that Gregory takes from his apartment to school, weaving through a maze of little ones playing in the courtyard. When it comes to what they know about the other sex or about trying to interact with them, the guys at the school that Gregory hangs out with are just as clueless as he is. And this is a guy who’s never even kissed a girl.

Ironically, Gregory’s best advice comes from his 10-year-old sister, Madeleine (Allison Forster), who’s also his biggest cheerleader. Whether it’s that tender brother-sister relationship, the innocent quality of Gregory’s attraction, or the ways that the girls at school work together to push these clueless boys into the relationships they want, Gregory’s Girl is dripping with period charm.

Film Movement offers a new 2K digital restoration, but the film still has the kind of grain you’d expect from a production from that era. What’s most appreciated even more than bonus features is that there are English subtitles. The Scottish accents can be pretty thick, and so subtitles are actually kind of helpful.

Language: “Prick” is about the worst that I heard

Sex: Aside from that opening spy-scene where we see a woman’s breasts, it’s a squeaky clean movie—just talk about girls, and several POV instances where boys are looking at girls from behind or as they move

Violence: Nothing worth mentioning

Adult situations: It’s all school scenes, for the most part, so nothing more than what’s already been covered

Takeaway: One of the few teen coming-of-age films that’s as wholesome as can be