There are two kinds of people in the world, those who welcome another chance to see Hugh Grant, and those who say, ``Bloody hell, not another sodding Hugh Grant movie.'' For the first group, no added motivation is necessary. For the latter group, let me just say that in About a Boy, you can see Hugh Grant playing himself like never before. And he's very good at it. In this film, Grant plays a man who enjoys being single. He has no intention of ever having a wife and kids. He doesn't work, living comfortably on the proceeds of a popular Christmas song written by his father. He does work hard at one thing, picking up women. And he works just as hard at getting rid of them. After being set up with a single mother who gives him great sex and then dumps him before he can dump her, Grant decides this is his perfect demographic. He attends a single parents meeting pretending to be a single father. It seemed like a good idea at the time but it starts Grant down a slippery slope towards having people in his life. The twelve year old son (Nicholas Hoult) of a suicidal single mother (Toni Collette) attaches himself to Grant. Grant has no interest in Collette but when he does meet Ms. Right (Rachel Weisz), also a single mother, complications set in because he pretends that Hoult is his son. Not used to telling the truth, Grant is caught in the lie and disaster follows.
As a result of further suggestions from my readers, I'd like to take a moment to point out that, not only am I using paragraphs, but now, I am separating them by a blank line.
Where was I, oh yes, this is a really nice little film. It is adapted from the book by Nick Hornby who also wrote High Fidelity. He's a great writer and as he showed in High Fidelity and again here, he really understands the male psyche (sorry, Robin). Hugh Grant is playing his dream role of a cad with a heart of gold. In fact, the story is a bit reminiscent of a Christmas Carol with Grant in the role of Scrooge. The plot follows how Grants life changes between one Christmas and another. Hoult does a great job playing the kid who is as dorky as they come and is picked on incessantly at school until another cool kid (Nat Gastiain Tena) becomes his protector. My school days were not that different from Hoult's. Collette is good as Hoult's depressed mother. How she went from Muriel's Wedding to playing worried mothers is beyond me. She also had the worried mother role in The Sixth Sense. Of course, women age very fast in the movies. For example, Sally Field (real age 48) played Tom Hanks' (real age 38) mother in Forrest Gump. In About a Boy, both Collette (real age 29) and Weisz (real age 30) play divorced mothers of 12-year olds. Weisz (The Mummy Returns, Enemy at the Gates) is good too although she doesn't have to stretch her acting muscles in this small role.
About a Boy is put together
very well. As I said, the script is good, the direction, by brothers
Chris and Paul Weitz, is interesting, and the pacing is great. By
the way, Rachel Weisz is no relation to the Weitz boys although she went
to school with Chris. About a Boy is a pretty conventional
story and you don't need me to explain that the title doesn't just refer
to the 12-year-old boy. But somehow, this film rises above its banal
plot, thanks mainly to the performances, the writing and directing.
In particular, Grant and Hoult have a very nice chemistry together.
So what if we know that they will all live happily every after. I'm
a sucker for that kind of thing. About a Boy is definitely
a candidate for the feel-good movie of the summer!