Will Freeman is a hip Londoner who one day realizes that his friends are all involved with the responsibilities of married life and that leaves him alone in the cold. Passing himself off as a single father, he starts to meet a string of single mums, confident in his ability to leave them behind when they start to ask for a commitment. But Will's hope of a continued bachelorhood is interrupted when he meets 12-year old Marcus, in many ways his complete opposite.
|Release Date||:||April 26, 2002|
|Genres||:||Drama, Comedy, Romance|
|Production Company||:||Universal Pictures|
|Production Countries||:||United Kingdom, United States of America|
|Director||:||Chris Weitz, Paul Weitz|
|Writers||:||Nick Hornby, Peter Hedges, Chris Weitz, Paul Weitz, Nick Hornby|
|Casts||:||Hugh Grant, Nicholas Hoult, Toni Collette, Rachel Weisz, Sharon Small, Madison Cook, Jordan Cook, Nicholas Hutchison, Ryan Speechley, Joseph Speechley, Denise Stephenson, Natalia Tena, Christopher Webster, Isabel Brook, Orlando Thor Newman, Augustus Prew, Victoria Smurfit, Paulette P. Williams, Susannah Doyle, Fritha Goodey, Delma Walsh, Peter Roy, Rosalind Knight, Sian Martin, Joanne Petitt, Cathy Murphy, Mark Heap, Claire Harman, Jason Salkey, Annabelle Apsion, Russell Barr|
|Plot Keywords||:||london, rock and roll, single parent, rap, bachelor, becoming an adult, friendship, single|
In the wonderfully entertaining "About A Boy," Hugh Grant shucks everything that made him famous nearly a decade earlier in "Four Weddings and a Funeral" (the floppy hair, the stuttering, etc.) and ends up giving his best performance to date. He plays Will, a wealthy, happily unemployed, commitment-phobic cad (slightly less insidious than Daniel Cleaver of "Bridget Jones's Diary") whose newest ploy is to date single mothers because they are easier to dump. However, he meets Marcus (Nicholas Hoult), the son of a somewhat suicidal mother (Toni Colette), and realizes that he cannot continue living his life so shallowly.
This film was based on Nick Hornby's wonderful book of the same name and retains much of the wit and touching humor. The early scenes depicting Will's "full," but spiritually empty, life are particularly amusing, with Will dividing the day up into units of time and spending these units on "web-based research" (finding pics of supermodels with see-through tops), "exercise" (shooting pool), grooming, and the like. Grant makes his character irresponsible, but remains enormously likable throughout the film. This is important because we start to identify with him, and understand his fears of commitment and helplessness behind his outward superficiality. His mannerismsGrant's specialty, I thinkare v. entertaining to watch; the selfishness, hurt, anger, recognition and more pass across his face effortlessly. The other cast members Nicholas Hoult, Toni Colette, and Rachel Weisz are also v. good in their supporting roles and play off each other well.
The film doesn't follow the book too closely, however, but does one-up on the book by wisely emphasizing some parts that the book downplays. For example, Rachel (played by Rachel Weisz) only appears for a few pages in the book, but has much more presence in the movie. Through the Rachel character, we see how Will's relationship with her is different from his past shallow ones, and we realize that he is growing up. Also, the movie is filled with great one-liners and sharp, witty dialogue that never feels forced. The movie also employs voice-over function (Will's) very nicely; for example, in one serious scene, Will follows the ambulance to the hospital, looking rather serious, but in his voice-over he says. "It was all terrible, just terrible. But driving fast behind the ambulance was fantastic." The character would never say that out loud, but it provides comic relief and the assurance that he is, indeed, very shallow.
The strength of "About a Boy" is in the simplicity and power of its scenes. Not one scene is wasted; each one tells us a wealth about the characters and leads to Will's self-discovery. That, along with Hugh Grant's delightful performance, and backed by a great score from Badly Drawn Boy, make "About A Boy" one of the most delightful, entertaining, and touching movies I've seen. It's a great feel-good movie. Highly recommended, especially to Hugh Grant fans, or anyone who has ever empathized or sympathized with Will and his situation. One of my favorites. 10/10.