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About a Boy (2002) – Movie Review

About a Boy movie poster

Written by: Peter Hedges, Chris Weitz and Paul Weitz, based on the novel by Nick Hornby
Directed by: Chris & Paul Weitz
Starring: Hugh Grant, Nicholas Hoult, Toni Collette, Rachel Weisz, Sharon Small

My Advice: Matinee

Will (Grant) has got it made. Thanks to an obnoxious Christmas song his father penned, he gets enough in royalties that he doesn’t have to do jack squat in order to live…and live well. Self-absorbed and in need of female companionship, he decides to invent a fictional child in order to get into single parent support group meetings…so he can score. He figures if he ever needs to bail on any paricular single mother, he can. However, he runs into Marcus (Hoult), a teenage boy who’s got a few problems of his own–so Marcus decides to incorporate Will into life. Will has no way to escape.

[ad#longpost]Let me say this up front: Hugh Grant can act! Who knew? Stuck playing lovable bumbling heels for the majority of his career he takes a leap and plays a less than lovable bumbling heel. He’s a self-serving bastard, to be truthful–and this is enough of a stretch for Grant to truly, finally, shine. And while we’re talking about surprises, the Brothers Weitz aren’t going to have a career based on a foundation of drek! Amazing! And as long as they keep cranking out films of this quality, hell, I’d go watch American Pie 3 if it would keep them in coin. Excellent!

Suffice to say this is a good film–funny and yet a nice shade of dark funny, not unlike the last Hornby to see the big screen, High Fidelity. It has something important to say about the condition of relationships here at the outskirts of the 21st Century–and a message for how families need to evolve in order to survive. It delivers all of this without seeming preachy or cheese-ridden, which it would have been easy enough to fall back into. This wire act is accomplished by a smart script, the aforementioned quality direction, the aforementioned quality Grant, and the acting of not only the titular Nicholas Hoult, but also the ubiquitous Collette and Weisz. Every time we see Weisz, we’re more and more grateful she made a graceful exit from Mummy 3 in order to, oh, act. And there’s just something so…sublimely funny about watching Hoult sing along with Mystikal.

A perfect date movie for people who think and feel, it’s worth seeing on the big screen, so catch an afternoon showing.

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