Directed By: Paul Weitz and Chris Weitz
Written By: Nick Hornby (novel) / Peter Hedges, Chris Weitz, Paul Weitz (screenplay)
Starring: Hugh Grant, Toni Collette, Nicholas Hoult, Rachel Weisz, Sharon Small
Rated: PG13 (brief strong language and adult themes)
Running Time: 101 Min.
Will is a 38 year old bachelor, who likes to believe that he is an island unto himself. He's never had a long-term relationship, never had to work a day in his life, and is perfectly content to bask in the materialistic sunshine of his solitary tropical paradise, complete with DVD player, satellite TV, and home capuccino machine. Mind you, Will isn't an uncharted island, and does welcome the occasional female tourist with open arms. Of course, being an island in a sea of humanity does have its pitfalls. For instance, every so often he's forced to venture out to the mainland, and therein lies the danger. Why, if he's not careful, the whole of civilization could soon be knocking at his hut!
It isn't about a fear of commitment, indeed, far from it! You should know that Will commits himself completely to every woman he dates, right up until the time he breaks up with them. That is, until the day that the unthinkable happened. Believe it or not, one of Will's conquests actually beat him to the punch! She was a single mother, and to Will's surprise, not only broke up with him, but blamed herself! Wow! Why hadn't he thought of this before? Dating single mothers with 'issues' could save him a lot of time and trouble! Problem is, he hadn't thought much about the fact that single mothers also have these other little things called 'children'. Remember what I mentioned earlier about danger?
Now, as difficult, nay, impossible as it may be to conceive, Will is played by Hugh Grant. Shocking, eh? Yes, once again, Grant plays the smug, shallow, yet somehow likeable chap we've seen him play many, many, many times before. The difference this time out is About a Boy's excellent screenplay, which allows Grant to showcase his usual character in all of his absurdly self-absorbed glory. You may call it typecasting, but I say if it's not broke, don't try to fix it with Ben Affleck!
Along with Grant's fine performance, another highlight of this comedy is Nicolas Hoult, who plays Marcus. Marcus is one of those small children that single mothers always seem to have. He's a bit awkward, and very mature for his age. In other words, he takes quite a thrashing from the other kids at school. I could be wrong, but it appears that Marcus may need a father-figure to look up to!
What follows is a delightful coming-of-age comedy, with much of the growing-up being done by Will. I was most surprised that this film was directed by Paul and Chris Weitz, the brothers responsible for 1999's American Pie. It seems they've done some growing-up as well!
If you're a fan of Hugh Grant, then you've seen this all before, but never with such clever humor and insight. About a Boy is a sure winner.