Review: About A Boy

Finally got around to watching About A Boy last weekend, when my Dad decided to go through part of his movie collection…and boy do I wish I’d seen it sooner.

Can you imagine yourself doing nothing with your life? Will certainly can…and does – he divides his day up into half-hour units…getting a haircut takes up four units…lunch takes up three. Will can do whatever he pleases because the royalties from a Christmas song his father wrote enable him to live comfortably in one of the most expensive cities in the world. If a particular friend of mine in Melbourne is immature, Will is ten times worse…until he meets a boy (no, probably not the title character) who teaches him how to grow up.

Nick Hornby is quite a genius. Of course I am assuming that all the dialogue comes from his book, on which About a Boy is based. Have a look at some of these gems. I particularly liked the following from Will himself…

I’d be the worst possible Godfather. I’d probably drop her on her head at her christening. I’d forget all her birthdays until she was 18. Then I’d take her out and get her drunk. And, let’s face it, quite possibly try and shag her.

His exchanges with Marcus were also very amusing, but it was their voice-overs – a characteristic of the other Nick Hornby film, High Fidelity, too, IIRC – that kept me smiling, if not grinning, throughout the film.

But the dialogue would be nothing if the characters weren’t believable (even though they do cut the line very finely), and if the actors weren’t able to pull it off. Most people will probably remember Hugh Grant for those “bumbling Englishman” roles which started with Four Weddings and a Funeral, but he works so perfectly as Will, a bastard who somehow finds a heart. Nicholas Hoult brought just the right mixture of youth and gravity to his role as Marcus too, and Toni Collette somehow managedto be a convincingly suicidal mother, despite all the laughs her role generates. Kudos must also go to directors Chris and Paul Weitz – yes, of American Pie fame – for whom I now have loads more respect. (I’ll just hope they don’t stroll down the “slapstick American comedy” path again…)

Most Hornby fans, I surmise from reading another review, would probably be quite disgruntled with the ‘neat’ ending. I, on the other hand, don’t particularly mind, since a lot of other stuff I watch already give me headaches with their open-ended, often bittersweet, endings. I might well wish I could take this statement back once I read the book though…but before then, I just might sit down and enjoy this gem once again.

p.s. Nicholas Hoult is apparently 6′ 2″ now – the same height as my brother…I’m finding it difficult to imagine, given how small he looks in the film!

About karice
MAG fan, freelance translator and political scientist-in-training. I also love musicals, travel and figure skating!

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