About a Boy is warm and funny; it was one of the most entertaining films I've seen in a while. Hugh Grant is especially charming and Marcus is incredibly likable. It shows the importance of connecting with other people, as truly "no man is an island." We all have a need for love and relationship; also, Will learns that true wealth and happiness can only come from the immaterial.
Review by Simon Remark and Annette Wierstra


This page was created on May 21, 2002
This page was last updated on May 21, 2005

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Directed by Chris Weitz and Paul Weitz
Novel by Nick Hornby
Screenplay by Peter Hedges, Chris Weitz and Paul Weitz

Hugh Grant .... Will Freeman
Toni Collette .... Fiona
Rachel Weisz .... Rachel
Nicholas Hoult .... Marcus
Madison Cook .... Imogen
Jordan Cook .... Imogen
Ryan Speechley .... Barney
Joseph Speechley .... Barney Nat
Gastiain Tena .... Ellie

Produced by
Nicky Kentish Barnes .... co-producer
Tim Bevan .... producer
Liza Chasin .... co-producer
Robert De Niro .... producer
Brad Epstein .... producer
Eric Fellner .... producer
Lynn Harris .... executive producer
Debra Hayward .... co-producer
Nick Hornby .... executive producer
Hardy Justice .... co-producer
Jane Rosenthal .... producer

Original music by Damon Gough
Cinematography by Remi Adefarasin
Film Editing by Nick Moore

MPAA: Rated PG-13 for brief strong language and some thematic elements.
For rating reasons, go to FILMRATINGS.COM, and MPAA.ORG.
Parents, please refer to PARENTALGUIDE.ORG


About a Boy
(Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Badly Drawn Boy

Damon Gough, the man behind Badly Drawn Boy, opted to score the film adaptation of Nick Hornby's novel About a Boy instead of recording a regular follow-up to 2000's Hour of Bewilderbeast. Interspersed with short instrumental interludes that serve as lovely miniatures, the songs evoke the book's jaunty mood and (fittingly for something based on a Nick Hornby story) incorporate strands of pop music from the past 40 years with uncommon grace. "Something to Talk About" borrows from Brian Wilson and Paul McCartney yet doesn't feel derivative; "Above You, Below Me" is a charming waltz; the intoxicating "Donna and Blitzen" is pure Phil Spector-does-Christmas. Inspired meetings of this magnitude between film and music are rare enough that this one should be celebrated to the high heavens. --Elisabeth Vincentelli

1. Exit Stage Right 2. A Peak You Reach 3. Something to Talk About 4. Dead Duck 5. Above You, Below Me 6. I love NYE 7. Silent Sigh 8. Wet, Wet, Wet 9. River, Sea, Ocean 10. S.P.A.T. 11. Rachel's Flat 12. Walking Out of Stride 13. File Me Away 14. A Minor Incident 15. Delta (Little Boy Blues) 16. Donna and Blitzen

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Book infoAbout a Boy
by Nick Hornby

Will Lightman is a Peter Pan for the 1990s. At 36, the terminally hip North Londoner is unmarried, hyper-concerned with his coolness quotient, and blithely living off his father's novelty-song royalties. Will sees himself as entirely lacking in hidden depths--and he's proud of it! The only trouble is, his friends are succumbing to responsibilities and children, and he's increasingly left out in the cold. How can someone brilliantly equipped for meaningless relationships ensure that he'll continue to meet beautiful Julie Christie-like women and ensure that they'll throw him over before things get too profound? A brief encounter with a single mother sets Will off on his new career, that of "serial nice guy." As far as he's concerned--and remember, concern isn't his strong suit--he's the perfect catch for the young mother on the go. After an interlude of sexual bliss, she'll realize that her child isn't ready for a man in their life and Will can ride off into the Highgate sunset, where more damsels apparently await. The only catch is that the best way to meet these women is at single-parent get-togethers. In one of Nick Hornby's many hilarious (and embarrassing) scenes, Will falls into some serious misrepresentation at SPAT ("Single Parents--Alone Together"), passing himself off as a bereft single dad: "There was, he thought, an emotional truth here somewhere, and he could see now that his role-playing had a previously unsuspected artistic element to it. He was acting, yes, but in the noblest, most profound sense of the word."

What interferes with Will's career arc, of course, is reality--in the shape of a 12-year-old boy who is in many ways his polar opposite. For Marcus, cool isn't even a possibility, let alone an issue. For starters, he's a victim at his new school. Things at home are pretty awful, too, since his musical therapist mother seems increasingly in need of therapy herself. All Marcus can do is cobble together information with a mixture of incomprehension, innocence, self-blame, and unfettered clear sight. As fans of Fever Pitch and High Fidelity already know, Hornby's insight into laddishness magically combines the serious and the hilarious. About a Boy continues his singular examination of masculine wish-fulfillment and fear. This time, though, the author lets women and children onto the playing field, forcing his feckless hero to leap over an entirely new--and entirely welcome--set of emotional hurdles.


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Growing up has nothing to do with age.

Based on Nick Hornby's popular British novel, About a Boy is a comedy-drama starring Hugh Grant as Will a rich, child-free and irresponsible Londoner in his thirties who, in search of available women, invents an imaginary son and starts attending single parent meetings. As a result of one of his liaisons, he meets Marcus, an odd 12-year-old boy with problems at school. Gradually, Will and Marcus become friends, and as Will teaches Marcus how to be a cool kid, Marcus helps Will to finally grow up.

Paul Weitz and Chris Weitz (American Pie, Down to Earth) are directing About a Boy, with Jane Rosenthal, Robert DeNiro, Brad Epstein, Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner producing for Tribeca Productions and Working Title Films.
-- © 2002 Universal Pictures

Review by

Film Reviewer
Simon graduated from Trinity Western University where he studied film under prolific screenwriter Ned Vankevich. He prefers independent and lower-budget films.
Click to enlarge"No man is an island," according to John Donne, although super-bachelor Will (Hugh Grant) disagrees. With DVDs, CDs, TV, cappuccino makers and computers he believes he does not need anything or anyone else. And with beautiful women coming in and out of his life he has no need for a wife, even a steady girlfriend. His friends, a married couple, constantly tell him there is more to life, that he has nothing and will eventually need something substantial but Will disagrees.

Click to enlargeHe declines when these same friends ask him to be the God father of their new baby, he lists all the reasons why he's the absolute worse candidate-it's obvious he isn't the right person when we see him hold the baby like it's a life threatening disease. Will is a shallow person who only thinks about himself, he has no job (he lives off the royalties of a hit song his father wrote) and he has no desire to take on any responsibilities that will not somehow benefit him. Anything that detracts from his lifestyle is a nuisance.

Click to enlargeOne good thing his friends have done for him, however, is set him up with a beautiful young friend, who happens to be a single mother, and although Will says he loves children to sound charming he has no tolerance for them. But while dating this single mother Will has a revelation: dating single mothers is an ego massage with loads of passionate sex, and the relationships are easy to get out of. So when things do not work out between the two Will seeks out single mothers with one problem however, he doesn't know who is single and who is not. His solution: he joins a single parent's support group where he meets another beautiful young mother, Suzie, but has to make up an imaginary son, a two-year-old named Ned.

Click to enlargeAnd it is on his first date with this single mother that he meets Marcus (Nicholas Hoult), the odd yet affable 12-year-old son of even odder woman who is also in the support group. Marcus's mother is depressed and when they return to his house at the end of a day in the park they find his mother passed out on the couch after a suicide attempt. She survives but Marcus discovers that one person to rely on isn't enough, if his mother dies he will have no one, so he decides he'll need a backup: he settles on Will.

Click to enlargeMarcus calls Will and asks him to take his mother and him out to lunch. And although Will does not want to be bothered he agrees. Marcus then follows Will around for a couple days and discovers he doesn't really have a son. So when he shows up at Will's flat he uses this to sort of blackmail him into letting him hang out and watch TV. And the remainder of the film looks at how Will and Marcus develop a relationship that will change both of them.

Click to enlargeWill helps Marcus realize that it isn't his fault his mother is depressed, and there's nothing he can do to change it, it's something she has to work on herself; Will also helps Marcus become a little more hip by buying him trendy trainers (sneakers) and rap CDs (he also saves him from committing social suicide at a school talent show). Marcus helps Will discover that there is more to life than TV, DVDs and pretty girls.

About a Boy is warm and funny; it was one of the most entertaining films I've seen in a while. Hugh Grant is especially charming and Marcus is incredibly likable. It shows the importance of connecting with other people, as truly "no man is an island." We all have a need for love and relationship; also, Will learns that true wealth and happiness can only come from the immaterial.

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Annette is a writer and reporter living in Canada. Check out her in-depth interviews in Left Behind. Her reviews include Hollow Man, Chicken Run, Final Fantasy, What Lies Beneath, A Beautiful Mind, The Sweetest Thing, Spider-Man, About A Boy

Click to enlargeThink of the shallowest person you know - now take away any depth that he has. Now you have Will Freeman (Hugh Grant) in About a Boy.

The movie is based on a novel by English author Nick Hornby, who also wrote the screenplay and produced the movie.

What I love about Will is that he has no depth - none! Hornby has stripped away any depth Will could have. He's got no family, no close friends, and not even employment (he is living off the royalties of a very popular Christmas song his father wrote). He spends his days chasing women, watching TV and very carefully grooming himself, or paying others to do it for him.

And he is perfectly happy with his life the way it is. His motto is "Man is an Island" and he is prepared to live and die by that.

Click to enlargeWill's shallow nature is underlined in an opening scene when one of his few friends asks him to be godfather to their baby daughter. Instead of politely accepting like any normal person, Will refuses emphatically.

Will's relationships last a few weeks, and then he gets bored and dumps the unsuspecting female. This all changes when Will starts dating a single mother. Just when Will is about to break up with her, she dumps him because she is not ready to commit. Will realizes he has hit a gold mine. Why be the dumper, when you can be the dumpee.

The only problem is how to meet single women? Will starts going to a single parent support group, inventing a two-year-old son. But instead of finding a cache of datable single women, Will gets a young 11-year-old boy showing up on his doorstep.

Click to enlargeWill met Marcus (Nicholas Hoult) when his date brought another single mom's son along. When they bring Marcus home, they find his mother collapsed on the floor from a drug overdose. His mother Fiona (Toni Collette) recovers from her suicide attempt, Marcus does not. Instead of going home after school Marcus starts showing up uninvited to Will's house.

Will grudgingly lets Marcus into his house and into his life. What he finds is a sad boy, who not only struggles at home but at school. Will tries to help Marcus by buying him things but what Marcus really needs is a friend.

Click to enlargeNot long after Will meets Rachel (Rachel Weisz), yet another single mom with her own 11-year-old. Will really falls for Rachel and quickly realizes that his shallow life will not impress her. So he lets her assume that the 11-year-old Marcus is his son. This of course is a big mistake. Rachel finds out the truth and feels betrayed by the lies.

When Fiona and Will have a fight about Marcus' well being, Fiona forbids Marcus to see Will anymore. This leaves Will where he started, an island. He is alone, peaceful and undisturbed, but his few months of companionship make him realize how empty that life is.

This movie does a great job of bringing the viewer along on Will's journey. At first his life seems glamorous, his house stylish and Will attractive. But once Will is left alone after Marcus and Rachel have left, we see that his life is nothing. How can sitting on a couch be fulfilling. And Will has nothing in his life to fill that void.

Click to enlargeIn the end, I don't think this is a romantic comedy because I really didn't care if Will got the girl in the end. What I really cared about was the relationship between Will and Marcus, and Marcus and his mother.

The movie is very successful at doing a somewhat soft and sentimental idea without falling into sappiness. Just as it hovers on the verge, the movie is rescued by a laugh. Something that Hugh Grant is good at. It is nice to see him in a role with a little more edge to it than some of his other characters.

What this movie is telling us is that no man (or woman) is an island. We need people, we need love, and we need relationships. I think we were created to be in community with others. While most of us aren't as cut off from the rest of the world as Will is, we can all sometime shut people out of our lives. When we do that, we are shutting life out.

Click to enlargeReal life requires us to be vulnerable. We have to take the chance of being hurt by others, and sometimes we might be hurt. But finding real relationships and real friends makes life so much richer. In the end, Will gets more than a girlfriend, he gets a quirky assortment of friends, and he gets some depth.

I think we can take it a step further and look at Will as a representative of us, who out a spiritual side. Without a spiritual life, our lives are empty and we are looking to fill that emptiness - even if we are like Will and don't know it at first. We have to open ourselves up to God and make ourselves vulnerable to Him. The great thing is that, unlike human relationships, a relationship with God will never let us down.

If you enjoyed this movie, check out High Fidelity starring John Cusack. It is also based on a Nick Hornby novel and it takes another look at love and relationships from the male perspective.

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