Movie Name: About a Boy
Release Date(s): April 26, 2002
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Will Freeman (Hugh Grant) is an adult who never grew up because he didn’t have to. Independently wealthy due to his father’s hit song “Santa’s Super Sleigh”, Will hasn’t worked a day in his life. Will could be called shallow and he would admit that he is since he recently discovered single mothers make great dating materials with no responsibility. Inventing a fake child, Will is out to hook up, but when he encounters an odd boy named Marcus Brewer (Nicholas Hoult) who uncovers his secret, Will is about to make a new friend whether he likes it or not.
Directed by Chris and Paul Weitz, About a Boy adapts the 1998 novel by Nick Hornby. The comedy was released to critical acclaim and an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.
I really like About a Boy. Much like Hornby’s other story High Fidelity, the movie is almost the guy’s equivalent of a chick flick. Women will like it, and guys will associate with it…it is a perfectly targeted comedy in that sense.
The movie doesn’t necessarily take the path you expect. In a traditional romantic comedy story, a perfect kid will bring the lone character and his mother together to make a perfect family unit by the end of the film…that doesn’t happen here. Marcus is actually kind of weird, his mother Fiona is a mess, and Will isn’t the type to end up with them. It is pretty unconventional in that sense.
The movie might dissuade some by Hugh Grant’s inclusion. Grant (especially at the time) was always the charming, smarmy English “hunk”. Here he still has a lot of these traits but he feels more real, flawed, and adult (even if his character isn’t). It is more self-aware. Hoult is also good since he is kind of an odd kid with Toni Collette as his equally weird mother who can’t see the situation clearly. The film also features Rachel Weisz as the perfect woman for Will…if he doesn’t screw it up.
The movie is a very subtle and very English comedy. The laughs aren’t generally laugh-out-loud and more of a smile. The movie does stylize some scenes through editing so it does feel a bit more classy than the standard comedy. The movie is also powered by a good soundtrack by Badly Drawn Boy.
About a Boy is a good movie that almost anyone can enjoy. It feels different than a standard comedy and is much smarter. The book was also adapted into a TV series for NBC. The series was set in San Francisco and ran for 2 seasons from 2014 to 2015 and featuring some of the events of the movie.