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About a Boy

The trailers for "About a Boy" tell the story. We know from these thirty-second blips that Will (Hugh Grant) is a do-nothing bachelor who enjoys his independence and freedom from any attachments. We know that a twelve-year-old boy, Marcus (Nicholas Hoult), enters his child-free environment and changes everything. We know that Will is transformed and everyone lives happily ever after, and that it is all done with good humor.

So this looked like a flick I could easily miss. I am not fond of Grant and I am even less fond of "feel-good movies". However, my daughters saw it somewhat accidentally, and both were surprised to find that they liked it. They felt Grant played his role genuinely and with deeper feeling than they have seen before, and that the boy is likeable and not cute. So I figured I'd see for myself.

The story is improbable, predictable, hackneyed. What lifts it off the page is a slightly different approach - better writing - and the acting. Grant does come across as genuine and genuinely affected by Marcus. His transformation is unlikely yet we are willing to believe in it. Marcus is a truly nerdy little guy, whose star trek eyebrows, bad haircut, and little bow mouth never keep him from knowing who he is. It is the bright and persistent Marcus who engineers Will's change of heart, for his own self-preservation, and who ultimately benefits most from it.

The character of Marcus' depressed stuck-in-the-sixties mom does not, thank heaven, suddenly turn into Sandra Bullock. I would have liked to see her become a little more than caricature, but movies are short; there was barely time to develop Will and Marcus.

Lame story, well done. I can't give it five stars but I do think it's worth seeing. Not a flashy film and not a complicated story, so it's fine for video.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 26th, 2002 09:19 am (UTC)
I feel good ~tuh duh duh duh duh duh duh~
My daughter also dislikes Hugh Grant and did like this film.   I like your review.

The thing I don't like about Hugh Grant is that I don't think he takes chances with his acting.   He has allowed himself to be stereotyped and compartmentalized and that bores me.   The thing I do like about him is that he has many of the same qualities as Cary Grant.   I didn't care for Cary Grant in his younger days; but he aged well.   Perhaps Hugh Grant will do the same.

I do tend to like "feel good" movies.   I like other genres better; but a "feel good" movie tends to make me... uh... feel good.   ;-)
May. 26th, 2002 10:38 am (UTC)
Re: I feel good ~tuh duh duh duh duh duh duh~
Ah, Cary Grant! Now there's a Grant I would always go to see. I have seen his films many times, often with my older daughter, as it happens. We went through a series of Hitchcock films on video. (For a long time her favorite film was "Vertigo". Maybe it still is. Hitchcock was a wonder, absolutely.) I have loved Cary Grant in just about everything he has done, even though he often played the same character. Perhaps because it is an intelligent, interesting character.

I agree that Hugh Grant doesn't take chances and doesn't seem to care. He trades on his good looks - and in this latest film I found him more attractive than I usually do (usually I don't at all, really). Tom Cruise, on the other hand, has made mistakes but he continues to push into realms one would never expect.

I don't mind feel-good movies that are not predictable, that have meaning. I can think of one but can't think of its name - the group of travelers whose bus gets stuck...shoot. And I liked "Cocoon" for its more honest portrayal of older people. For having older people in the lead.

Generally, though, if a reviewer says "The feel-good movie of the year", you can bet I'm staying away.
May. 26th, 2002 11:02 am (UTC)
I agree with you about Tom Cruise, although I'm not terribly fond of some of the realms he has explored recently.   Vanilla Sky comes to mind.   It looks better than it actually is... if that makes sense.   And that horrible movie he made with Nicole... Eyes Wide Shut. What, in my opinion, a total waste of celluloid.

May. 26th, 2002 11:20 am (UTC)
My point exactly. Cruise has done some real dogs, and Vanilla Sky is among them. I think he was actually rather good in there, but it was such an awful film that he could not save it alone.

I don't usually care for Richard Gere, either - responding to your other comment in your own journal - I liked him in American Gigolo. And what was it recently...oh yeah, Unfaithful. He did a decent job there in another lousy movie. I can't say he was terrific but at least he wasn't his usual preening self (which Cruise was, in Vanilla Sky).
May. 26th, 2002 11:52 am (UTC)
Preening. That's the word! Ha! Thanks. I've been trying to think of that word all day! :-)
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )


Judith Lautner
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