Stars: Hugh Grant, Toni Collette, Rachel Weisz, Nicholas Hoult, Sharon Small, Madison Cook
Directors: Paul Weitz, Chris Weitz
Screenwriters: Peter Hedges, Chris Weitz, Paul Weitz; based on the best-selling novel by Nick Hornby.
A brilliant and complex comedy with many unsentimental but touching and very real moments, About a Boy rides on the sly wit and casual charm of an older and wiser Hugh Grant and is chock full of full-bodied characters portrayed by a good supporting cast.
It tells the story of a confirmed bachelor, Will (Hugh Grant) who does “nothing” for a living because he lives off the royalties from his late father’s hit Christmas song. Instead, Will spends his highly calculated time watching television, buying CDs and looking for his latest female conquest – but no one he’s likely to get too serious with. One day Will comes to the conclusion that single mothers are the best targets because they’re in need of love but are not ready for commitment either. They’ll break up with him first, sparing him from any minor guilt he might otherwise have experienced.
On that note, he joins a single parents support group, scores a hit then finds his meticulous little life getting complicated fast when he becomes a father figure to a 12-year-old boy named Marcus (Nicholas Hoult), the son of his date’s deeply depressed best friend.
Toni Collette couldn’t be less glamourous as the distressed woman Fiona, a disheveled hippie type reduced to crying bouts and suicide attempts. Her poor nerdy son Marcus is the butt of everybody’s jokes at his school; he has no friends and his loving but self absorbed mother doesn’t realize that she’s simply contributing to his social problems.
Over the course of the film, Will reluctantly examines his shallow existence and comes to realize that that there really is room in his heart for others. The arc that his character travels is believable in every sense and is aided by the exceptional voice-over narrations by both Will and Marcus offering up keen insight with great humor. Nicholas Hoult as Marcus is one strange looking kid with that dumb haircut and dorky walk but he’s terrific. The script is refreshingly fluid and unpredictable – it’s what good writing is all about. Also features Rachel Weisz as Will’s best gal Rachel.
Lotta says: In its genre, one of the best films I’ve seen in a while! It’s Rated PG-13 for brief strong language and some thematic elements.