About A Boy (2002)
Starring: Hugh Grant, Nicholas Hoult, Toni Collette, Rachel Weisz
Directed By: Chris and Paul Weitz
We've owned this DVD for over 2 years now, so I guess it was about time I saw it (it was my wife's DVD, not mine). I always figured it would be a decent enough movie; I've just never been drawn to it enough to settle down to watch it for a couple hours.
Now, I've watched it, and, yes, it is a decent enough movie. The movie is an adaptation of Nick Hornby's novel, Hornsby being the man who brought the novel High Fidelity into the world. It's funny, because I think High Fidelity's Barry would probably shit all over the sentiment-filled About A Boy, but maybe Rob and Dick would give Hugh Grant some props.
The film is directed by Chris and Paul Weitz, making it a mature step up from American Pie, but not as refined as In Good Company. The film itself is fairly clichéd, which is common in the romantic comedy genre. However, it navigates the clichés and conventions of the form charmingly well, so it goes on the upper end of the spectrum.
A lot of the credit goes to Hugh Grant, who abandons his sheepish ticks and grins to play a vacuous bachelor with Peter Pan syndrome named Will. His life is changed on the Dead Duck Day when he meets the lonely twelve year nerd, Marcus (Nicholas Hoult). Will was trying to score with Marcus' single mother's best friend (also a single mom), when he brings Marcus home to find that his mom (Toni Collette) had attempted suicide. Eventually, this will lead Marcus to continually hang around Will, initially to the chagrin of Will, until he eventually warms to the lad, and, in no shock at all, forces Will to grow up and find meaning beyond buying gadgets and scoring with chicks.
Again, there are no surprises in the film, no re-invention of the wheel. What it boils down to is if you find the gags funny, whether you find the characters likable, and whether or not the ending leaves you satisfied. The gags, for the most part, are funny. The characters, for the most part, are likable (although the geek Marcus annoyed me at times, and I was pretty indifferent to Toni Collette's Fiona). And the ending did what we wanted it to do (although the climactic scene at the school play/recital/talent show is getting a little tired. It's the prom finish for the 15 and under set). Had the writing been less sharp, or if Grant hadn't been so spot-on, this wouldn't have been anything more than an average film. However, with those ingredients, it manages to be pretty charming and surprisingly decent.