About A Boy
Directed: Chris Weitz and Paul Weitz
Screenplay: Peter Hedges, Chris Weitz, and Paul Weitz
Starring: Hugh Grant, Toni Collette, Nicholas Hoult, and Rachel Weisz
Since this film is based on the novel by Nick Hornby, I would like to explain my feelings concerning film adaptations of novels. I personally like to watch the film version first before I read the novel if I can help it. I am not usually disappointed with either version in this order. Some people prefer the opposite way, but when I read the novel first, I end up becoming highly more critical of the film. I try to keep this my policy, but I am human. If I get involved with a series I really like, I tend not to have the patience to wait. Lol!
My first attraction to this film was the fact that it was British made and starred Hugh Grant, and this is also the very reason I purchased it. I tend to gravitate toward the British shows, because I enjoy the dry humor so much. Hugh Grant never disappoints in this area. What I originally thought was going to be funny narrative of Hugh Grant’s character during bachelorhood, turned out having an endearing story filled with just as charming, if not eccentric, characters as well.
The story follows Will and Marcus as they both go through the trials of growing up. Will is a self-proclaimed bachelor living off the royalties of his deceased one-hit wonder father and happy to do so. He spends his days watching game shows, spending money, and plotting his next female conquest. His newest plan finds him impersonating a single parent, believing that he can find plenty of women looking for fun and not attachment. It is through one of these exploits that he finds himself suddenly involved in Marcus’s life and not by choice either.
Marcus’s dramatic and eccentric mother’s usual antics are enough to embarrass him as he tries to survive school and the trials of being a normal teenager, but her latest self-absorbed stunt threatens to rip his world apart completely. Fearing for his mother’s sanity and the remnants of his happiness, Marcus comes up with a plan to find his mother a boyfriend. Since he hasn’t really met an adult male besides his own father and Will, he places his hopes on Will and forces him with a little blackmail to date his mother.
What actually develops between Marcus and Will is a relationship that pushes the other to accept themselves as they are and move on with life. In Will’s case, this means becoming the matured man, willing to let others in, whom he should have become at least ten years earlier. For Marcus, he finally becomes one with his awkwardness and learns how to have fun. At the beginning, Marcus is the mature adult, putting his mother’s happiness before his own, and Will’s the child, not being able to see beyond his own indulgence. This story is their journey of finding their rightful roles in life and creating a bond with the other that was unlikely in the beginning, but turned out to be exactly what each of them needed.
Being that the novel is fantastic, the only way that they could have hoped to recreate the charm into film is with the cast that they chose. This is a story driven film, and in order to achieve this in film the actors chosen become the tools in which to propel it forward. Bad acting can easily put a story driven film through cardiac arrest before it has even seen the silver screen leading it straight to the dreaded video store path.
Hugh Grant was perfect for the role as Will. His acting is usually limited to comedy, but it is an area in which he shines. Normally, his serious moments are always overlapped by immediate comedic relief. But Hugh Grant can do drama and has the resume to prove it, which gave him the perfect chops to present Will’s character perfectly.
Nicholas Hoult handled the mantle of his first major film part quite well, delivering an engaging and believable performance. I have seen him gradually take on more and more film roles since About A Boy, and he has gotten stronger. It is clear from this film that he would have such a career ahead of him.
The last actor to pull you into this film is none other than the famed chameleon actor, Toni Collette, which she proves undoubtedly on her recent television series, The United States of Tara, as a women with a multiple personality disorder. Toni Collette has played many varied characters that spread across a spectrum that at times you do not realize the actor you are watching is her right away. This is just raw talent that few actors have. This film is no different. She once again throws herself into the character of Fiona, Marcus’s mother. Her characters neurotic tendencies allowed Toni Collette to portray a woman that allowed you to sympathize, empathize, laugh with, and laugh at without one awkward turn.
Unfortunately, there is not a whole lot to add about Rachel Weisz. She was not terrible in this film, just that her character did not offer her much to work with beyond delivering the lines. Her character was important, but only as a device for Will’s character.
Over all, this is a wonderful movie that not only will make you laugh, but make you feel good. I would also like to make a tiny notice to the soundtrack that was written and performed by Badly Drawn Boy. It adds its own character, and I highly recommend to those who find this type of music appealing. Just be warned that it is score as well as music.
I give this film 4 Buttery Kernels.
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