About A Boy (2002)
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"You were still in diapers when I got arrested in Hollywood--who told you about that?"
About a Boy features Hugh Grant as Will Freeman, a sort of womanizing playboy with a lot of time on his hands. Tired of all the complications that come with dating, he discovers that getting involved with single mothers is a lot less troublesome. He begins meeting woman through SPAT, a single mothers focus group. This eventually leads him to distraught single mom Toni Collette and her bright yet withdrawn son (played by effective new comer Nicholas Hault). Freeman begins to bond with the young lad, and soon becomes a better man because of it.
You'd never guess by watching this picture that it was made by the Weitz Brothers. This movie is much more character driven, and doesn't rely on broad gross-out gags to get it's point across. Based on the novel by Nick Hornby (writer of High Fidelity), About a Boy is heartfelt without being sappy with enough witty dialogue to keep it well above standard, light romantic comedy fare. This is definitely one of Grant's best performances. While we've seen him play this role time and time again, he excels at it thanks to a swagger, droll delivery, and an impeccable sense of comic timing. I also enjoyed Hault as a smart youngster, perhaps the best child performance of the year.
Although About a Boy does manage to go in unexpected directions (without giving too much away, I like the outcome of the Grant/Collette relationship), but I felt Grant's transformation from cad to stand-up guy, was a tad abrupt. Perhaps if the film were longer, these situations would have had a chance to gel.
While About a Boy is not flawless, it is a welcome gem compared to that other movie opening in the same weekend. It's well acted and the Weitz's have proven that their capable of something much more than gross out humor. This movie is much more memorable than anything in the American Pie pictures.
On a sidenote, the Badly Drawn Boy soundtrack was fantastic!
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