about a boy directed by Paul and Chris Weitz, written by Peter Hedges and Chris and Paul Weitz, based on the book by Nick Hornby, produced by Jane Rosenthal, Robert De Niro, Brad Epstein, Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner, with Hugh Grant, Nicholas Hoult, Toni Collette and Rachel Weisz. 115 minutes. A Universal Films release. Opens Friday (May 17). For venues and times, see First-Run Movies, page 75. Rating: NNNN
hugh grant was born to play About A Boy's terminally single Will, a 38-year-old man who happily avoids long-term relationships in favour of no-strings-attached affairs.He's so shallow, he poses as a single dad to troll a single-parent support group in hopes of picking up desperate women. His plan works, sort of. Will befriends Fiona (Toni Collette), a suicidal woman, and her 12-year-old misfit son, Marcus (Nicholas Hoult), who blackmails Will into being his friend.
It's based on Nick Hornby's third novel, the follow-up to Fever Pitch and High Fidelity, which were both turned into films.
Hornby writes male fairy tales about little boys trapped in grown-up men's bodies. They think they want to stay young forever so they can play football, collect records, check out pretty girls and buy trendy gadgets. Then a lovely maiden appears, someone who sets them off on a quest for maturity.
Will's tasks include turning a nerdy boy into a cool kid, keeping a suicidal woman sane and winning the lovely maiden by showing he's opened his heart.
I love Hornby's writing because it's funny and gives women insights into the male romantic psyche, a world most male writers are afraid to reveal. Smart straight women ought to pick up his novels and a highlighter and start underlining.
Will is the underrated Grant's juiciest role to date, a complex soul capable of complete self-awareness one instant and self-protecting denial the next.
The role also addresses the fact that Grant's no longer a young man; you can see the lines starting to crease his face and a certain weariness behind his eyes. He'll be a wonderful older actor, a little like the middle-aged Cary Grant, who got sexier in his middle years because his charm was tinged with wisdom, experience and a little bit of grey around the temples.
Two American brothers, Chris and Paul Weitz, landed the job of directing this very British dramedy, which is interesting when you consider their two previous directing gigs, the blockbuster teen comedy American Pie and Chris Rock's Down To Earth.
The Weitzes, an upscale version of the Farrelly Brothers, write as well as direct. They collaborated on the scripts for About A Boy, Shanghai Noon, Nutty Professor 2 and Antz, and they made their acting debut in the indie flick Chuck & Buck.
About A Boy is their breakout film. They showcase Grant and guide 12-year-old Nicholas Hoult through a difficult role as a sweet-natured, weird kid whose mother may kill herself at any moment.
If Grant plays a little boy trying avoid adulthood, then Hoult is the mature soul desperately looking for a way to enjoy his childhood. IR email@example.com