Movie Review

About a Boy

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for brief strong language and some thematic elements.

Reviewed by: Halyna Barannik
CONTRIBUTOR

Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Genre:
Romantic Comedy / Drama
Length:
1 hr. 45 min.
Relevant Issues
Hugh Grant in “About a Boy”

Starring: Hugh Grant, Rachel Weisz, Toni Collette, Nicholas Hoult, Isabel Brook | Directed by: Chris Weitz, Paul Weitz | Produced by: Jane Rosenthal, Eric Fellner, Tim Bevan, Robert De Niro, Brad Epstein | Written by: Chris Weitz, Paul Weitz, Peter Hedges | Distributor: Universal Pictures

“About A Boy” is a movie about Willy (Hugh Grant), a bloke (British for “guy”) who lives off the royalties of a successful song his father wrote. He is an odd man, charming and witty and somewhat self-effacing, but without any moral scruples at all. Pushing 40, he looks to women for fun only, with no intention of ever marrying. He targets single mothers because they might be easy prey.

Nicholas Hoult as Marcus in “About a Boy”Along the way he meets Marcus, the son of a depressive/suicidal mother, played deftly by Toni Colette (“The Sixth Sense”). The boy finds some kind of comfort in visiting Willy, a father figure to whom he has taken a strong liking. At first resistant to the companionship of a child, Will adjusts to Marcus, as the boy, vulnerable and lonely, grows on him and taps into his deeply buried conscience.

It is the relationship between Will and Marcus that has elicited positive reviews for this movie. But the theme of a helpful friendship that stimulates deeper feelings in a guy who has always been unabashedly shallow is somehow muddied by other thematic elements, like the bullies at Marcus’ school who are inordinately cruel and cutting (are all the British kids like this?) and the women who linger around Will on the periphery. And then there is Rachel, whom he meets at a party and actually finds interesting and alluring but doesn’t know how to get her, or his own selfish attitude toward life. Although I found myself rooting for Will to become a better person, and at the end he seems to have found a sense of responsibility, the many themes made the movie a little too dense, too crowded, and that insufferable British mumbling of words that make you want to ask your neighbor “what did he say?” didn’t help.

This movie will appeal to movie afficianados and to those who find Hugh Grant “cute,” which he is, in a snotty and roguish kind of way.

In terms of Christian values, Marcus and his love for his mother soften the worldly quirkiness of this movie, but at the end, even Marcus becomes worldly, emulating the very bullies who have hurt him so much. All in all, an enjoyable film, but not exceptional by any means.

This latest of Hugh Grant’s films has been overall well-reviewed by critics, but my eager anticipation was in the end disappointed.

Year of Release—2002

Viewer Comments
Positive—I’m afraid I haven’t anything very biblically based! ;) Other than the “muddy” english accents, are a relief to us Brits!!! The amount of American films we receive swamps our industry, and proves it difficult for under-dog producers and directors to develop their talent. God gave us differences, embrace them, embrace the English language. It was the seed of your own “version” anyway! ;)
My Ratings: [Average / 4½]
—JO, age 19
Negative—My wife and I attended this movie on the recommendation of Dr. Laura on her broadcast. We were unprepared for the assault on our ears of the crudest possible language. Every vulgarity of the basest sort was there, uttered by adult and child alike. Even the review seen above does not prepare one concerned about the content of movies for the verbal assault of vulgarities uttered in almost every scene in this movie. One expects a PG-13 to have some semblance of family value, but we saw none.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 3]
—Douglas Smith, age 58
Neutral—While the story line was good—you need to really care about people—but the movie was looong.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 2]
—Cindy, age 50
Positive—… it was really great, better than I even imagined! Hugh Grant nailed an awesome role ¡hilarious! What a perfect role for him—immature, funny, cynical, but warm and happy. I wish I had seen this when it came out¡ Instead I waited FOREVER to see Star Wars. I saw about a boy with 3 other friends, everyone agreed, as do all the reviews I have read…
My Ratings: [Good / 5]
—cinefile00, age 26
Neutral—The film About a Boy opens up a lot of issues that plague society, and could so easily be answered by Christianity. Will’s (Hugh Grant) life is the epitome of emptiness, and that is what life is like without Christ. The movie shows the depression that most people struggle though life fighting off, because they have no hope. And depressingly to the audience, none of the characters really solve their problems beyond the immediate circumstances. In the long run, we get the feeling that these feelings that envelope all the characters of hopelessness will forever plague them, once the newness of their situations wear off. The only lasting solution to the problems that these characters really have is to accept Christ Jesus as their savior, and find the jow that he gives to all that seek him out.
My Ratings: [Average / 4]
—Sarah Ayotte, age 18
Positive—OK—first off the bat, I am a HUGE Hugh Grant fan. I have ALL of his available films (except for 9 months and Mickey Blue Eyes, BOTH of which I disdain) I found myself transfixed from the opening credits, and had to ask myself time and again, “Will Hugh Grant make the jump to responsibility, or will he squander his entire life?” I was hit hard by the emotional conflict, and hit just as hard by the great sense of humorous timing throughout. I cannot say enough good about this film, except that it wasn’t long enough!
My Ratings: [5]
—Margaret B. Flagg, age 39
Negative—My wife and I were disappointed with this film. The vulgar language was particularly offensive. I must say I felt sorry for the little boy though. Don’t waste your time or money on that one.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 2]
—Jacques Lemieux, age 49
Negative—After reading a good review (8/10) at another site, we chose to see this movie. Big mistake. There is much offensive language and behavior. The only thing that makes this movie remotely agreeable is that the character played by Hugh Grant does come to the conclusion that there is more to life than wealth and material possessions (i.e. friends and families). Mr Grant does do a good job of portraying a wealthy person with little or no redeeming value, spiritual or otherwise. But the ultimate conclusion is that you don’t need a husband or wife, you just need to have an extended family, however you arrange that. There are a few humorous moments but they are not worth the price of admission. In my opinion, the acting is poor and, in general, this movie is just strange and a waste of time.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 1½]
—Jim, age 46
Movie Critics
…so clever and authentic that it manages to skirt the line between heartwarming and genuinely funny, without ever resorting to cheap tricks or manipulation…
—Bill Muller, The Arizona Republic
…the film’s vulgar language is particularly offensive, since young Marcus and his schoolmates utter much of it. Too bad this meaningful story is seriously polluted with the foul language and crude sexual content…
—Preview Family Movie and TV Review
Comments from young people
Positive—It really showed how the Lord puts people into our lives to help us love, live and lighten up!
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4½]
—Sara, age 14
Positive—This movie was very good! It really showed Hugh Grant’s character go through a transformation! It was also very funny, if you appreciate British humour. Yes, it did have some language but overall it had a good moral. I laughed and cried at the same time! I recommend that everyone go see it!
My Ratings: [Average / 4]
—Monica, age 16
Positive—About a Boy was a compelling story. It was “quirky” and it did have bad language, but I found it to be more true to real life than most movies that show a character undergoing some sort of change. The guy was truly devoid of feeling for others, thinking only of himself. He thought it satisfying. Then he realized it wasn’t. His life, true, was fine, but it lacked meaning. I thought it was a great story of reformation. Though not professing any religious aspects, I thought the message of the movie lined up with biblical truth—putting others before self, the importance of family, what makes a relationship meaningful, etc. It was real. That’s what I liked.
My Ratings: [Average / 4]
—Sally, age 17