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,2002
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ABOUT A BOY,   MOVIE POSTERABOUT A BOY, 2002
Movie Reviews

Directed by Chris Weitz, Paul Weitz
Starring: Hugh Grant, Toni Collette, Rachel Weisz, Isabel Brook, Sharon Small, Victoria Smurfit, Nicholas Hoult,Nicholas Hutchison
Review by Jason Day


SYNOPSIS:

A rootless 38 year old man (Grant) is faced with the possibility of growing up after forging an unlikely friendship with a strange, loner child (Hoult) after his hippy mother (Collette) attempts suicide. Despite his best attempts to resist it, he sees himself forming a social circle of real friends and even true love with a single mum who also has a child with issues (Weisz).

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REVIEW:

Grant, for so long the floppy-haired and oh-so-very-English buffoon of tiresome, confetti ‘Brit’ cinema, effectively shakes off his Four Weddings and a Funeral persona with a sleek and mature and turn as the feckless drifter. It is a merciful relief to see him performing confidently without the irritating, stammering mannerisms that have marked his career up until this point.

About a Boy's supporting cast back him all the way with twinkling comic turns. Hoult, who would go on to star in TV’s racy Skins shows a little early star power as the odd-bod surrogate son, managing to charm despite wearing the ugliest hair-cut in modern cinema.

Collette is even better and continues to display remarkable versatility as Hoult’s new-age mother. She bolsters her leading man with a faultless English accent and she excels during some winning moments, particularly her post-suicide attempt homecoming, given without an ounce of false sentiment or teary hysterics.

TV comedy regulars Duvitski (One Foot in the Grave) and Knight (Gimme Gimme Gimme) are on hand as the familiar comic faces on hand to help with the laughter quota. Knight, in particular, is given some of the films funniest lines as Hoult’s new grandmother.

There is no doubt that the film is a polished drama (an adaptation of the novel by Nick Hornby), but there is a none the less a whiff of pointlessness in the air. We are dealing with a shallow man, but the depth of the story is little more than a cutsey, generational buddy flick with lovely London sights thrown in for good measure.

For instance, there are some wicked, cutting one-liners, but this film, touted as a comedy drama, actually doesn’t have that good a sense of humour. It is far happier as a serious examination of a single man in the noughties finally growing up. It is here that About a Boy hits what could be called it’s ‘mark’. The insights into the insular life of the single, 30-something male are coldly realistic (Grant’s monologues on his “Units of Time” are spot-on and his treatment of his dumped women honestly described).

The film is handled with lots of pizzazz by the Weitz brothers and, in terms of performance and comic timing, the film scores more than it misses.

Badly Drawn Boy provided the bulk of the smashing soundtrack and another famous name (Robert De Niro, no less) acts as co-producer.


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ABOUT A BOY


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