About a Boy movie full length review - Hilarious But Memorable Romantic Comedy
"About A Boy" is an amusing coming-of-age romantic comedy that shuns the standard sappy shenanigans. Hugh Grant plays his usual self-effacing character.
As the protagonist, he has been cast as a non-entity who only becomes somebody after prolonged exposure to a well-meaning twelve-year old whose mom has tried to commit suicide. Weitz brothers Chris and Paul, who helmed both "American Pie" and "Down To Earth," directed this wholesome but hilarious epic about how British people who help people triumph over their problems. The premise that a youngster can draw an older, solitary loner out of his hermetically sealed bachelorhood provides a refreshing change of pace. Grant's character has been spared from the burden of toiling for a living because his late father penned one song, "Santa's Super Sleigh," that emerges as a chartbuster. Actually, Will Freeman (Hugh Grant)abhors the song, but lives off the royalties of his father one-hit wonder tune. Meantime, life for Fiona Brewer (Toni Collette of "Hitchcock") has not been rewarding. She earns her living as a music therapist who helps sick children. Lately, however, she has been plagued with worrisome thoughts that prompt her cry rivers of tears. She sends her son, Marcus (Nicholas Hoult of "Warm Bodies"), to school one morning and reminds him that she loves him. The entire playground ridicules this endearing exchange and Marcus hears everybody utter derisive variations of "I love you, Marcus." Marcus knows about the third degree because everybody at school gives him grief. He even gives himself grief when he witlessly warbles songs in class without realizing that he is singing.
Will is shocked and astonished that his closest friends ask him if he'd serve as their daughter's godfather. He refuses to capitalize on this this grand opportunity. "I couldn't possibly think of a worse godfather for Imogene. You know me. I'll drop her at her christening. I'll forget her birthdays until her 18th, when I'll take her out and get her drunk and possibly, let's face it, you know, try and shag her. I mean, seriously, it's a very, very bad choice." Husband and wife John (Nicholas Hutchison of "Miss Potter") and Christine (Sharon Small of "Driven") react with surprise at Will's less than subtle response. Nevertheless, they set him up on a date with a friend, Ellie (Natalia Tena of "Womb") who has a child. Usually, Will displays little tolerance for children as he emphasized when John and Christine sought to recruit him as a godparent. Suddenly, he performs an about-face attitude reversal and professes no qualms about dating a single mom. He hits it off well with Ellie. However, she decides she cannot continue their relationship and breaks up with him. The idea of dating single mothers obsesses Will. He attends a SPAT meeting; SPAT stands for Single Parents Alone Together. Predictably, Will is the only guy in the group and listens to their depressing stories of betrayal. When it comes time for him to contribute, Will makes up a story that his wife abandoned him and their two-year old son, Ned, and ran off with his best friend. Later, Will lands a date with Suzie (Victoria Smurfit of "Bulletproof Monk"), who also a SPAT member, and they along well enough. When they go out of a date, Suzie brings along Marcus because Fiona cannot accompany them. During the date, Marcus throws bits of his mom's bread at the ducks in the park pond. Frustrated with trying to pluck off pieces, Marcus hurls the entire loaf into the pond. Accidentally, he hits a duck with the bread and the blow kills it. Surprisingly, this scene turns out to be very humorous. Will convinces the park warden that Marcus hurled the loaf to see if he could sink the dead duck.
After the date, when Suzie and Will take Marcus home, they discover Fiona has attempted to kill herself with pills. Eventually, the lonely Marcus becomes friends with Will and Will comes to regard him as more than an obnoxious brat. Initially, Marcus wants to visit Will and watch television with him or he will inform everybody that Will doesn't have a toddler. Later, a recovered Fiona confronts Will in a posh restaurant and demands to know what he has been doing with Marcus. Will defends his actions and points out to Fiona that her son is being bullying in school. Fiona breaks down later and admits that she isn't a very competent parent. By all indications, it appears that Will and Fiona will become a couple. Happily, the Weitz brothers deviate from this thinking. Will winds up meeting another woman, Rachel (Rachel Weisz of "The Mummy"), and they become enamored of each other. Rachel also has a son who attends Marcus' school. He is one of the students who torments Marcus. Inevitably, Will's lies get into hot water with Rachel when she learns that Marcus isn't Will's son. Apparently, their romance is heading for disaster, but things work out before fade-out.
"About a Boy" is based on Nick Hornsby's novel. Grant imparts all his charisma and Collette plays the mousey mom who lives a depressing life. Scenarist Peter Hedges and the Weitzs have written some memorable dialogue and some of our heroe's observations under his breath about junctures in his life are clever. Mind you, this is a happily ever after opus, but Will and Fiona aren't the couple at fade-out. The finale in the school auditorium where Will accompanies Marcus on a guitar while sings a Roberta Flack tune is fun.