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About A Boy

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: About A Boy

Starring: Hugh Grant, Toni Collette
Director: Chris Weitz
Rated: PG
RunTime: 100 Minutes
Release Date: May 2002
Genres: Comedy, Romance

*Also starring: Nicholas Hoult, Victoria Smurfit, Rachel Weisz, Isabel Brook

Review by Steve Rhodes
3½ stars out of 4

ABOUT A BOY really isn't. It's about two guys, one 38 (Hugh Grant) and one 12 (Nicholas Hoult), who share a problem. They're both loners. Will Freeman (Grant) is happy to be an island. "I was the star of the 'Will Show,' and it wasn't an ensemble piece," is how he describes himself in his frequent and witty voice-over. Of course, underneath it all, he's anything but happy with his blank existence. Living a strictly regimented life in his luxuriously bland London flat, he literally "does nothing" for a living. The royalties from his father's one hit song, the annoying but popular "Santa's Super Sleigh," provide Will with a handsome income, although little meaning.

The other guy in the story, Marcus (Hoult), is the kid that everyone in school loves to pick on. His hippie mother, Fiona (Toni Collette), who dresses like a peasant in a Grimm Brothers' fairly tale, is depressed and suicidal. Marcus spends his life in vain attempts to cheer her up and to be the type of son that he thinks she wants. We learn of his concerns and issues through his narration. The movie, which has decidedly touching and serious undercurrents, is played more for the comedic than the dramatic.

Directed by Chris and Paul Weitz, ABOUT A BOY is another comedic treasure based on a novel by Nick Hornby (HIGH FIDELITY). Unlike most comedies, which frequently add up to little more than a series of humorous vignettes, ABOUT A BOY tells a real story about genuine characters that you'll be rooting for, and the acting is superlative all around.

Will, who thinks that a couple of weeks is too long for a relationship, hits upon the idea of meeting women via single parent support groups. Not having a real son, Will just invents one. The episodes at SPAT (Single Parents Alone Together) play like the cancer support group scenes from THE FIGHT CLUB. (One of the women at his first SPAT sessions wears a "Lorena Bobbitt for Surgeon General" T-shirt.) One SPAT meeting generates a date with a woman who is a friend of Marcus and Fiona. From there the story takes several turns that you expect while surprising you on many others. The best of these twists happens during a musical number in which you think you know how it will be resolved, but you'll be wrong.

Eventually, the lovable characters in this charming story will find their versions of happiness. They are so endearing that this is one of the few movies that I almost wished were longer. I loved these new friends, and I was sorry to see them go.

ABOUT A BOY runs 1:40. It is rated PG-13 for "brief strong language and some thematic elements" and would be acceptable for kids around 10 and up.

Copyright 2002 Steve Rhodes

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