It's About Time: A Classy Comedy Arrives
- Tuesday, March 19, 2002
About A Boy - PG-13
Best for: Mature teens to adults
The plot: Based on Nick Hornby's popular British novel, About a Boy stars Hugh Grant as Will, a 38-year-old confirmed bachelor who unabashedly leads a self-absorbed life devoid of ambition. He lives off the royalties from his father's Christmas song, Santa's Super Sleigh, but he has no real family, close friends, hobbies or interests. He especially abhors the idea of getting married or having children.
Will revels in the fact that he is an "island," but deep down, Will knows he's missing something. Then Will discovers a new category of women -- non-committal single mothers -- and he begins attending SPAT (Single Parents Alone Together) meetings, inventing an imaginary two-year-old son to get sympathy and dates.
Later, Will meets Marcus (Nicholas Hoult), an awkward but sweet 12-year-old who's picked on at school, has to act older than his years when at home, helping his suicidal mother (Toni Collette). Marcus and Will become friends and eventually find a way to help each other through their life crises. Marcus becomes a cool kid who teaches his Mom a thing or two about life and Will finally grows up and meets the girl (Rachel Weisz) he never knew he wanted.
The good: About a Boy is extremely well-written, balancing comedy and drama. The amazing screenplay by Paul and Chris Weitz (American Pie) is clever, witty and very funny, but also full of realistic dialogue and circumstances. Grant, Hoult and Collette manage to tap into real human emotions.
I laughed harder than I have in a long time at some of the witty barbs, and I enjoyed Will's subtle observations (credit Hornby's writing) about life, love, single manhood, marriage and children.
It's refreshing to hear adult dialogue that's intelligent, funny, profound and deeply moving. There are serious moments (Will's brief remembrance of his deceased dad, Marcus seeing his mother after a suicide attempt), but the lighthearted, funny moments far outweigh them.
As a single mom, I smiled and even got a little teary-eyed at some of the poignant moments between mother and son. Rarely does a movie deal with single parenting issues in such a truthful, realistic and (despite some hilarious quirky moments) positive way.
The bad: This movie is aimed at the adult audience. It contains adult language and situations. Marcus uses some profanity and British slang. Although there are sexual jokes and dialogue about the dating lifestyle, I appreciate that the movie had no sexual situations.
Offensive language and behavior: Some profanities as well as a few religious profanities are used. Several uses of British slang (the equivalent of cursing), but because the words don't mean anything to American audiences, it's not as offensive.
Sexual situations: None.
Violence: Kids throw a ball at Marcus and verbally taunt him.
Parental advisory: Despite a friendly "PG-13" rating (mostly for language and adult issues), this is not a "family-friendly" movie and is not intended to be one. It may be OK to take your mature younger teen to see it, but the movie is meant for adult audiences.
It's a wrap: This male version of Bridget Jones's Diary will entertain you and make you laugh, while giving you a candid view of the complications of single life. I also enjoyed the British perspective on dating and single parenting.
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