Monday, January 29, 2007

Review of 2002 film About a Boy

Adapted from Nick Hornsby's cleverly written and fun novel, I found this movie immensely enjoyable. Hugh Grant stars as Will, who differs from most of us in such a fundamental way that it makes him a very interesting guy. What makes Will out-of-sync with the world is that his late father once wrote a famous and with the royalties he collects from it, he doesn't have to work to sustain himself financially. The downside of this, of course, is that he doesn't have anything substantial or fulfilling in his life but he's very comfortable with that, at least at the beginning of the story.

What changes Will's life is the inadvertent introduction of a 12-year old boy and his suicidal mother (Toni Collette) into his life when a scheme to meet an attractive mom backfires. Like some of the best relationships in life, Will's with the 12-year old Marcus is involuntary at first but the two learn a lot from each other. With a of fear of losing his mother and an uneasiness about whom he can depend on, Will gives Marcus someone to look up to, while Marcus enables Will to find meaning in his life, especially when Will meets a woman he feels he might be able to fall in love with (Rachel Weicz).

This is the second Hugh Grant film that I've seen this year, which surprises me considering I still don't think Hugh Grant works most of the time. I credit this to an excellent adaptation of Hornsby's novel that adds more depth to Grant's role than the usual bumbling romantic lead, and also because within the setting of London Grant works better within the cultural context. The boy who plays Marcus is a cute kid who's easy to dislike at the beginning, but proves pretty bright when he takes Will's immensely useful tip that it is possible to change his level of coolness simply by changing some of the little things in his appearance (getting a haircut, buying new shoes, etc). Watching that scene warmly brings back memories of that monumental day in our own lives when it dawned upon is after years of feeling hopeless within our grade school social circles that it is, in fact, possible to change your level of coolness. The film is filled with a lot of those little things in life we can relate to so much more than we thought we would.

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