About a Boy (2002), with Hugh Grant and Nicholas Hoult: Movie Review

by Mira

Wonderful small movie: great performances, a perfect pace, and a masterful selection of scenes and dialogues, building on an intelligent and vibrant book by Nick Hornby.

I see other people are raving about this movie, and I can understand why. It has a wonderful cast (Hugh Grant, Toni Collette, Rachel Weisz, and Nicholas Hoult) who delivers great performances, it's paced well, it is, of course, funny, the scenes are well-chosen, and it's edited just right.

While the book About a Boy by Nick Hornby is a great little gem, turning it into a movie was a different project and could have gone all ways. Besides the script, direction, and performances, I really liked the camera work -- it was in tune with the character of the movie, which, by the way, includes some nice asides. There was also some nice music by Badly Drawn Boy.

Chris Weitz and Paul Weitz directed the movie. Peter Hedges, Chris Weitz, and Paul Weitz adapted Nich Hornby's novel.

Hugh Grant finds the right tone for each scene, with one exception, I think (the one where he says, "Yes, I am that shallow," or something of the sort). He's very likeable and performs easily, with grace -- but somehow a little too much of his performance in previous movies shows up. I'm thinking of a lot of superficial mimicry which he can pull off, but which doesn't build up a lot of drama -- with the exception of a scene where he's despondent over disappointing Rachel: now that's great acting! I wish we could see more of that from him.

Nicholas Hoult as Marcus is fantastic. With a small range of facial expressions, he managed to rise up to the challenge of hitting the right notes in portraying an ingenuous, well-meaning kid, with great love for his depressive mother and the right instincts for keeping his head above water, despite problems at home and bullying at school. Kudos to those who cast him as Marcus, as well as to Nicholas Hoult for playing the part so well.

About a Boy (Blu-ray)

About a Boy [Blu-ray]
$14.98  $8.07

What I would have liked to see more of in the movie was the kind of humor Nick Hornby gave Will in the book, and the way Marcus didn't pick up on it. There is some of this in the deleted scenes. Speaking of deleted scenes, they are fun but somehow don't fit with the tone of the movie and the elements in the book the movie chose to emphasize.

Toni Collette does a great job as always, and Rachel Weisz, even though she doesn't have much screen time, simply shines.

In the end it's a satisfying movie. Just like Nick Hornby's book, which is a perfectly pitched book without being an ambitious literary project, this movie manages to find an uplifting and entertaining -- if not bold and provocative -- way to tell a beautiful small story.

I recommend you read the book as well. Here's my review of Nick Hornby's About a Boy, complete with a short synopsis.

About a Boy (Amazon Instant Video, Purchase)

About a Boy
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About a Boy (Amazon Instant Video, Rental)

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Updated: 01/22/2013, Mira
 
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Mira 9 days ago

Haha, great quote!:)

DerdriuMarriner 9 days ago

Mira, Nice review! "Music and Lyrics," mentioned by your guest commenter, ranks among my favorite Hugh Grant films since it epitomizes the way he puts work into what looks effortless. As Richard Harrison once said, "Everyone underestimates the English!"

Mira on 12/07/2013

I love Hugh Grant. Hope to see what he makes with his acting career, now that he can't play this stereotype -- which, you're right, he played to perfection :)

Guest on 12/06/2013

Mira, "About a Boy" is another charmer in Hugh Grant's predictable repertoire of tousled hair, slightly bumbling, and likable personality. He plays a particular type of character quite well, making it look effortless, though I've read that he's quite a perfectionist about this persona for which he's famous.
"Music and Lyrics" is another Hugh Grant film I also like. And he dances in it!

Mira on 09/23/2013

Thank you, Johnny!

JohnnyKnox on 09/22/2013

Although Hugh Grant have some so so movies i have to agree this one particularly good. Nice review!

Mira on 01/24/2013

:) It looks like he'll be back on screen this year with Bridget Jones's Baby. So what is your all time favorite movie? :)

katiem2 on 01/23/2013

I love both comedy and Hugh Grant, he plays leading man in my all time favorite movie. :)K

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