20 Years Ago, Angus Did Teen Angst Right – and With a Good Soundtrack, Too
The movie hit theaters in 1995 and delivered funny teen angst and a great soundtrack
On September 15, 1995, the teen comedy-drama Angus opened in theaters, where it was soundly defeated by the drag queens of Too Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar, which had already been in theaters a week but still took the No. 1 spot at the box office. That month proved to be a formidable one for movies: Angus also had to contend with The Usual Suspects, Braveheart and a very different flavor of teen angst in Dangerous Minds.
Angus ultimately proved to be success, making $4 million on a teeny $1.5 million budget, and those who did catch it – if not in theaters than during its second life as a cult favorite VHS rental – know that it’s an underrated teen classic.
The film has Charlie Talbert playing Angus Bethune, an overweight, insecure high school freshman. He pines for popular girl Melissa (Ariana Richards), who is dating a jock (a pre-Dawson’s Creek James Van Der Beek, playing an anti-Dawson jerk). It’s a comedy, but it’s also a teen movie that deals with some less-than-sunny subjects, including obesity, body image, eating disorders, bullying and the the kind of social isolation that all high schoolers experience but most feel is unique to them.
It also has an amazing soundtrack that, for some young movie-goers, proved to be a gateway album to the world of alternative music. It included new tracks by Green Day, Weezer, Goo Goo Dolls and other bands that you should feel ways about being more than 20 years old.
If you haven’t seen Angus, you should check it out. (For what it’s worth, Roger Ebert loved it, giving it three stars and heralding it in his review, which began “Here it is at last, at long last, after years and years and years: A movie where the smart fat kid gets the girl and humiliates the football hero.”)
But if you’re currently stuck at your desk and feel the need to jump through a 20-year time warp, listening to that alt rock soundtrack might just do the trick. Here, then, is the soundtrack to Angus – and for some readers, the soundtrack to their own awkward, mid-’90s high school experience.
1. "J.A.R. (Jason Andrew Relva)" by Green Day
The track is probably known to Green Day fans from the 2001 hits collection, but it actually debuted on the Angus soundtrack
2. "Jack Names the Planets" by Ash
This could be one the only instance of George S. Scott, who plays Angus’ narcoleptic grandfather in the film, appearing in a music video.
3. "Enough" by Dance Hall Crashers
The album also included a taste of third-wave ska back when most newbies would have just called it “punk with horns.”
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4. "Kung Fu" by Ash
For many Americans, the Angus soundtrack introduced them to the Northern Irish alt rock band. They’re still a band, by the way, and released their sixth studio album, Kablammo! back in May.
5. "Back to You" by The Riverdales
The Riverdales, unfortunately, broke up back in 2011.
6. "Mrs. You and Me" by Smoking Pipes
This Chicago-centered pop punk outfit is still going strong and still playing shows.
7. "You Gave Your Love to Me Softly" by Weezer
What some Weezer diehards might not know is that this track, which debuted on the Angus soundtrack, was a second choice for inclusion in the film. Another song, “Wanda,” which was never released and never officially recorded, was the song the band had initially written for Angus. You can listen to a rough take of this lost Weezer track here.
8. "Ain’t That Unusual" by Goo Goo Dolls
This track also made its debut on the soundtrack.
9. "Funny Face" by The Muffs
Twenty years later, The Muffs are still a band too, and released their latest album – their first in a decade – back in 2014.
10. "White Homes" by Tilt
The punk band broke up in 2001, but lead vocalist Cinder Block would go on to be the frontwoman for the hardcore punk band Retching Red.
11. "Deep Water" by Pansy Division
Another intro that the Angus soundtrack gave to listeners? Their first gay punk band. They’re still rocking too, and put out their most recent album in 2009.
12. "Am I Wrong" by Love Spit Love
The special, marching band-enhanced version of the band’s studio version of the same song.
Where are they now?
Charlie Talbert still acts today, and played supporting roles in comedies such as Van Wilder and Spring Breakdown. Chris Owen, who played Angus’ even nerdier friend Troy, is probably best known today for playing Chuck “Sherminator” Sherman in the American Pie movies. Ariana Richards, best known for playing Lex in the original Jurassic Park, hasn’t quit acting but today is also an accomplished painter.