About a Boy
|About a Boy|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Chris Weitz
|Produced by||Jane Rosenthal
Robert De Niro
|Screenplay by||Peter Hedges
|Based on||About a Boy by Nick Hornby|
|Music by||Badly Drawn Boy|
|Editing by||Nick Moore|
Working Title Films
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Release date(s)||April 26, 2002|
|Running time||105 minutes|
About a Boy is a 2002 comedy-drama film directed by brothers Chris Weitz and Paul Weitz. It is an adaptation of the 1998 novel of the same name by Nick Hornby. The film stars Hugh Grant, Nicholas Hoult, Toni Collette, and Rachel Weisz. The film at times uses double voice-over narration, where the audience hears both Will's and Marcus's thoughts.
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (December 2012)|
Will Freeman (Hugh Grant) lives a very comfortable and leisurely lifestyle in London thanks to substantial royalties left to him from the successful Christmas song that his father composed. Will does not need to work and spends most of his free time watching television, and reading about pop culture. When Will's friends, Christine (Sharon Small) and John (Nicholas Hutchinson), ask him to be the godfather of their second child, Will bluntly refuses, insisting that he "really is that shallow". In an attempt to avoid spending time with the couple, Will meets Angie (Isabel Brook), a single mother, but the two only share a brief relationship which, to Will's surprise actually ends amicably. Afterward, Will comes up with the idea of attending a single-parents group called "SPAT" (Single Parents Alone Together) to meet potential female partners. As part of his ploy, he claims to have a two-year-old son named Ned. His plan succeeds and he meets Suzie (Victoria Smurfit).
Will's pursuit to court Suzie takes him to one of the group's functions — a picnic — where he meets Marcus (Nicholas Hoult), the 12-year-old son of Suzie's friend, Fiona (Toni Collette). At the picnic, Marcus accidentally kills a duck with a stale loaf of bread while trying to feed it. When a park keeper questions him about it, Will quickly defends Marcus by claiming the duck was already dead. Afterward, when Will and Suzie take Marcus home, they find Fiona in the living room, overdosed on pills in a suicide attempt. Marcus begins to be uncomfortable with staying at home alone with his mother, so he tries to get Will to date her so she won't be so lonely. After a single date this plan fails so Marcus follows Will around and discovers that Will is actually childless and had been faking being a single parent. Marcus then appears on Will's doorstep and blackmails him into letting him hang out at his apartment after school every day instead of going straight home.
Will is initially against Marcus spending time at his place, but when Marcus is chased there one day by bullies Will begins to realize the importance of his presence in Marcus's life. He starts helping Marcus fit in by taking him shopping for new shoes. Unfortunately, the shoes are stolen by bullies, causing a fight among Marcus, Fiona, and Will. At school, Marcus develops a crush on a grunge girl named Ellie (Natalia Tena), and his popularity steadily improves. Will begins a relationship with a single mother named Rachel (Rachel Weisz). Will lets Rachel believe that Marcus is his son in order to appear interesting to her. Later, in an attempt to be honest with her, he reveals that Marcus is not really his son, but his lie backfires and their relationship ends.
One day, Marcus comes home from school to find his mother crying in the living room. Marcus attempts to unburden himself to Will, who is unreceptive, as he is still upset about the breakup with Rachel. Will tells Marcus that he can't help him and the two have a fight. Marcus decides that the only way to help his mother is to sing at the school variety show - an act which Ellie deems "social suicide", warning that the other children will crucify him. Will continues his superficial existence, but realises that it doesn't fulfill him the way it did before. Will crashes a SPAT meeting and implores Fiona not to attempt suicide again. She assures him that she has no plans to do so in the immediate future and also tells him that Marcus has decided to sing at the school show that day.
Will and Fiona rush to the school to stop Marcus from committing social suicide, and Will finds Rachel in the school audience watching her son in the show. Will makes his way backstage to stop Marcus from singing, but Marcus is unswayed and believes that his singing will make his mother happy. Marcus proceeds to sing a shrill, out-of-tune rendition of "Killing Me Softly with His Song" as the student body taunts him. Suddenly, Will appears onstage with a guitar to accompany Marcus for the rest of the song. With Will's assistance, the school children accept Marcus's performance, giving him mild applause at the end. Seeing this, Will continues on with an unnecessary solo to take the negative attention off Marcus but is then ridiculed himself.
The following Christmas, Will hosts a celebration at his place where Marcus, Rachel, Rachel's son Ali, Fiona and Ellie are present. The idea of Will marrying Rachel is brought up, but Marcus seems unenthusiastic, believing that couples have no future without "backup" to their relationships.
- Hugh Grant as Will Freeman
- Nicholas Hoult as Marcus Brewer
- Toni Collette as Fiona Brewer
- Rachel Weisz as Rachel
- Nat Gastiain Tena as Ellie
- Sharon Small as Christine
- Nicholas Hutchinson as John
- Victoria Smurfit as Suzie
- Isabel Brook as Angie
- Ben Ridgeway as Lee, the bully
- Jenny Galloway as Frances / SPAT
- Augustus Prew as Ali
- Tim Rice (uncredited archive footage) as Himself
The soundtrack was released on 23 April 2002, composed by singer/songwriter Badly Drawn Boy.
- Track listing
- "Exit Stage Right"
- "A Peak You Reach"
- "Something to Talk About"
- "Dead Duck"
- "Above You, Below Me"
- "I love NYE"
- "Silent Sigh"
- "Wet, Wet, Wet"
- "River, Sea, Ocean"
- "Rachel's Flat"
- "Walking Out of Stride"
- "File Me Away"
- "A Minor Incident"
- "Delta (Little Boy Blues)"
- "Donna and Blitzen"
The film received critical acclaim, with a 93% 'Certified Fresh' rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The film, with a budget of £20 million, grossed a worldwide total of $130,549,455. In December 2002, the film was chosen by the American Film Institute as one of the ten best movies of the year.
Almost universally praised, with an Academy Award-nominated screenplay, About a Boy was determined by the Washington Post to be "that rare romantic comedy that dares to choose messiness over closure, prickly independence over fetishised coupledom, and honesty over typical Hollywood endings." Rolling Stone wrote, "The acid comedy of Grant's performance carries the film [and he] gives this pleasing heartbreaker the touch of gravity it needs," while Roger Ebert observed that "the Cary Grant department is understaffed, and Hugh Grant shows here that he is more than a star, he is a resource." Released a day after the blockbuster Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, About a Boy was a more modest box office grosser than other successful Grant films, making all of $129 million globally. The film earned Grant his third Golden-Globe nomination, while the London Film Critics Circle named Grant its Best British Actor and GQ honoured him as one of the magazine's men of the year 2006. "His performance can only be described as revelatory," wrote critic Ann Hornaday, adding that "Grant lends the shoals layer upon layer of desire, terror, ambivalence and self-awareness." The New York Observer concluded: "[The film] gets most of its laughs from the evolved expertise of Hugh Grant in playing characters that audiences enjoy seeing taken down a peg or two as a punishment for philandering and womanising and simply being too handsome for words-and with an English accent besides. In the end, the film comes over as a messy delight, thanks to the skill, generosity and good-sport, punching-bag panache of Mr. Grant's performance." About a Boy also marked a notable change in Grant's boyish look. Now 41, he had lost weight and also abandoned his trademark floppy hair. Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman took note of Grant's maturation in his review, saying he looked noticeably older and that it "looked good on him." He added that Grant's "pillowy cheeks are flatter and a bit drawn, and the eyes that used to peer with 'love me' cuteness now betray a shark's casual cunning. Everything about him is leaner and spikier (including his hair, which has been shorn and moussed into a Eurochic bed-head mess), but it's not just his surface that's more virile; the nervousness is gone, too. Hugh Grant has grown up, holding on to his lightness and witty cynicism but losing the stuttering sherry-club mannerisms that were once his signature. In doing so, he has blossomed into the rare actor who can play a silver-tongued sleaze with a hidden inner decency."
- About a Boy at Box Office Mojo
- About A Boy at Rotten Tomatoes
- Hornaday, Ann (17 May 2002). "'About a Boy': A Rake's Amusingly Slow Progress". The Washington Post. p. C01. Retrieved 29 September 2007
- Peter, Travers (6 June 2002). "Reviews: About A Boy". Rolling Stone (Rolling Stone Australia). Retrieved 29 September 2007
- Ebert, Roger (17 May 2002). "Movie Reviews: About A Boy". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 29 September 2007
- "Hugh Grant Film Actor, Comedy". GQ. November 2002. p. 325.
- Sarris, Andrew (26 May 2002). "Old Dog Loves New Trick, A Ploy for Seducing Singletons". The New York Observer (New York Observer). Retrieved 29 September 2007
- Gleiberman, Owen (15 May 2002). "Review: About A Boy". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 7 December 2012
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- Official website
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- About a Boy at Box Office Mojo
- About a Boy at Rotten Tomatoes
- BBC News 2002: About a Boy storms to top