offoffoff film



Site links
  • Contact us

    Get our newsletter:
    Search the site:

    Film section
  • Film main page
  • Film archive
  • Audio index
  • Film links

    Top 10 lists

  • Top 10 films of 2004
    (Andrea, David, Joshua, Leslie)
  • Top 10 films of 2003
    (Andrea, David, Joshua, Leslie)
  • Top 10 films of 2002
  • Top 10 films of 2001
  • Top 10 films of 2000
  • Top 10 films of 1999
  •  All of our top 10 lists, 1999 - 2004

    Current movies

  • Afterschool
  • Antichrist
  • Babies
  • Broken Embraces
  • Dare
  • District 9
  • The End of Poverty?
  • Fix
  • Food Beware
  • The Men Who Stare at Goats
  • Pirate Radio
  • Precious
  • Red Cliff
  • The September Issue


  • Brooklyn International Film Festival
  • Human Rights Watch Film Festival
  • New York Film Festival


    Complete archive

    Recent reviews:
  • (500) Days of Summer
  • Anita O'Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer
  • The Art of the Steal
  • The Beetle
  • Blessed is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh
  • Boy A
  • Brideshead Revisited
  • The Brothers Bloom
  • Burn After Reading
  • Cold Souls
  • The Duchess
  • Elegy
  • Enlighten Up! A Skeptic's Journey Into the World of Yoga
  • Five Minutes of Heaven
  • Flame and Citron
  • Frozen River
  • Happy-Go-Lucky
  • How to Lose Friends & Alienate People
  • The Human Condition
  • Hunger
  • Inglourious Basterds
  • King of Shadows
  • The Lemon Tree
  • Lorna's Silence
  • A Man Named Pearl
  • Man on Wire
  • Memorial Day
  • Mister Foe
  • Morning Light
  • My F├╝hrer
  • My One and Only
  • Paris
  • The Pervert's Guide to Cinema
  • Peter and Vandy
  • Police, Adjective
  • Pray the Devil Back to Hell
  • Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind
  • Rachel Getting Married
  • A Secret
  • Sleep Dealer
  • St. Trinian's
  • Thirst
  • Throw Down Your Heart
  • Valentino: The Last Emperor
  • What's the Matter with Kansas?
  • Wild Grass
  • Jay DiPietro


    About a Boy

    Hugh've come a long way

    Hugh Grant abandons the Hugh Grant type to give his best performance in "About a Boy," based on Nick Hornby's witty and wise fable of a commitmentphobic cad who cruises single-parent support groups for chicks.


    Hugh Grant wouldn't necessarily be my top choice to play Will Freeman, the narcissistic 30-something sloth of Nick Hornby's "About a Boy," but in the film version of the British writer's acerbic, best-selling novel, Grant is absolutely perfect in the role.

    Directed by: Chris and Paul Weitz.
    Cast: Hugh Grant, Toni Collette, Rachel Weisz, Isabel Brook, Sharon Small, Victoria Smurfit, Nicholas Hoult, Madison Cook, Jordan Cook, Nicholas Hutchison, Ryan Speechley, Joseph Speechley, Nat Gastiain Tena..

    Related links: Official site | All of David N. Butterworth's reviews at Rotten Tomatoes
    He looks the part, for one thing, with his trademark floppy hair here replaced by a fetching, short-cropped do. Gone, too, are the trademark Grant-isms, the nervous twitterings and bumblings that have graced the likes of "Bridget Jones's Diary," "Notting Hill," and "Four Weddings and a Funeral." Grant has somehow replaced all that with a performance that borders on brilliant. It's absolutely on, he's absolutely on, and his contributions alone make "About a Boy" worth catching.

    Shallow Will considers himself to be an island. Ibiza, actually. He does nothing, has no job, no prospects — he just sits around watching television, listening to his Bang & Olufsen hi-fi, playing snooker (aka "exercising"), and having his hair done, all the while living off an inheritance afforded him by his old man who, in 1958, wrote a smashingly successful Christmastide jingle called "Santa's Super Sleigh." The fact that he does nothing, has no job, no prospects doesn't exactly endear him to the women he dates but that's not really a problem since Will isn't into commitment anyway.

    It sounds horribly corny but with Hornby's text at its center, nicely tweaked by screenwriter Peter Hedges ("What's Eating Gilbert Grape") and the brothers Weitz, "About a Boy" manages to sidestep a boatload of clichÄs.  

    All this changes when self-centered Will meets misfit Marcus, the 12-year-old son of a friend of a woman he picks out of a lineup at a support group for single parents. Will doesn't actually have a son, but he invents one — "Ned" — simply to take advantage of the kind of emotionally vulnerable women that frequent a group such as SPAT (Single Parents Alone Together). Marcus, who's bullied at school and has a suicidal mother at home (she's played by the fiery Toni Collette of "Muriel's Wedding" and "Clockwatchers," who turns in yet another superlative performance), immediately starts showing up like clockwork at Will's London flat every day. Eventually Will teaches Marcus how to be cool and, in turn, Marcus teaches Will how to grow up.

    It sounds horribly corny but with Hornby's text at its center, nicely tweaked by screenwriter Peter Hedges ("What's Eating Gilbert Grape") and the brothers Weitz (who also direct), "About a Boy" manages to sidestep a boatload of cliches. In fact, I only had two problems with the film. Firstly, I didn't find Nicholas Hoult (who plays Marcus) particularly compelling as an actor — he's right for the role but he's no Haley Joel Osment, that's for sure. And second of all, the cloying song score (provided by the cloyingly titled Badly Drawn Boy) detracted from the visuals at every turn.

    These two relatively minor concerns aside, "About a Boy" is nevertheless an irresistible coming-of-age story that mixes wit with substance and does it in such convincing style that you actually buy the fact that Grant's character could transmogrify from Will the Irresponsible Cad to Will the Responsible Father Figure over the course of the movie. As for Grant himself, it's simply the best work he's ever committed to celluloid.

    MAY 24, 2002

    Reader comments on About a Boy:

  • Change of ending   from Steve G, May 31, 2002
  • Re: Change of ending   from nikki, Jun 3, 2003
  • Song score   from Steve G, May 31, 2002
  • A+bout A Boy   from Steven B., Oct 7, 2002
  • Re: A+bout A Boy   from RidleyS., Jun 14, 2003
  • Re: A+bout A Boy   from Steven B., Jul 16, 2003
  • Re: A+bout A Boy   from Angel C, Aug 31, 2006
  • Re: A+bout A Boy   from Georgia, Sep 3, 2007
  • [no subject]   from Nikki, Jun 3, 2003
  • I Love nicholas hoult so much!!!   from kelly reyes, Jan 1, 2006
  • Nicholas Hoult as THE kid for this:   from Susan Colbert, May 10, 2008

  • Post a comment on "About a Boy"