About A Boy
Film Length: 102 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (2.35:1)
Subtitles: English and Spanish
Growing up has nothing to do with age.
I have never been a Hugh Grant fan. I have always
felt the actor to be somewhat annoying, and I suppose
I feel threatened by the fact that women fall head
over heals for his boyish charm. For the most part,
I had made it my mission to do whatever it took to
avoid any movie that featured the actor, that is,
until I saw About A Boy
Hugh Grant seems to have a new image. The annoying,
bumbling mop-topped Englishman has been made-over
to look more stylish and clean-cut. Though he still
has that boyish charm, his slightly wrinkled face
makes him look perfect for this role.
Will Freeman (Hugh Grant) is a shallow, aging
slacker whose only responsibilities in life are
to live as fully as he can off the royalties of
his father's one hit Christmas tune. He lives the
the life of a playboy, enjoying as many short-term
relationships as he can. One day, Will realizes
that the best type of women to score with are single
mothers, and soon he begins attending single-parent
support groups to scope out the selection.
It is there, that Will meets Marcus (Nicholas Hoult),
very strange 12 year-old boy living with his depressed
suicidal mother (Toni Collette). Marcus is all alone
in the world. He can't find the love he needs at home,
and he just doesn't fit in school. Will and Marcus
begin to strike up a rather awkward friendship that
leads them to bond over their equally empty lives.
When a beautiful single Mother (Rachel Weisz) enters
Will's life, he begins to realize that his relationship
with Marcus holds a very unselfish meaning for him.
It's hard to believe that this movie could come out
of the same writing and directing team that brought
us American Pie, but Paul and Chris Weitz have
managed to put together a film filled with so much
wit and charm that it becomes pleasantly entertaining.
How is the transfer?
With a beautifully clear and noise-free picture, the
transfer is as warm as the film itself. Images are
just short of being razor sharp, falling back a little
on the soft side. Colors are extremely well balanced,
never really drawing attention to themselves causing
the picture to have a very natural look and feel to
it. Facial tones are dead-on accurate. This is about
as good as a transfer gets!
The 5.1 Dolby Digital mix is quite good for this type
of film. There's no real emphasis put on any aspect
of this mix. Sound is about as clear as one would
expect, not very bass-heavy, but perfect enough. The
rears do an admirable job with the film's effects,
particularly the sounds of kids in a school yard or
nature inside a city park. There's no real gimmicky
sound mixing here, nor should there be. I was just
happy that Damon Gough's score crept into the rear
channels for a nice wraparound feel.
A full-length Feature Commentary by writer/
directors Paul and Chris Weitz has the boys promising
that they will remain intellectual within this
commentary, and for the most part, they both remain
low-key throughout. This does sort of play as a
very interesting "Film Study 101" course as the
boys take us by the hand through scene after scene
and describe how shots and lighting were set up
(and nearly copied from other famous directors), and
how important plot decisions were mapped out. The
guys actually had a lot of problems trying not to
cross the line in what would be unacceptable material,
and throughout this commentary you'll hear several
examples of what nearly was. In the film's final
Kidz Rock showcase, the boys talk about why a New
Yorker magazine critic blasted the filmmakers for
deviating from the original book.
The making of About A Boy is an original cable
TV "On Location." Meet writers and directors Paul
and Chris Weitz who begin by giving us a bit of
background on their film which is based on a popular
book by Nick Hornby. An interview with Hugh Grant
reveals that the actor fell in love with the script
for the fact that it was a "moving" sort of picture --
something he hadn't done before. Author Nick Hornby
talks about writing a comedy that basically involves
people having a hard time. Young actor Nicholas Hoult
explains the benefit of working with two directors who
bounce their ideas off of one another. And though
these American directors are often found working
with material that is quite immature, you would be
surprised as how intelligent and sophisticated they
can be in real life. Hugh Grant is not one who
readily warms up to kids, but the Weitz brothers
found a remarkable talent in an 11-year old kid who
had no prior film experience. This is a very
down-to-earth featurette that really examines
its material rather than trying to be overly
promotional -- and gosh darnit, we could use a lot
more featurettes like this.
(length: approx. 11 minutes)
There are approximately 14 minutes of deleted
scenes that are all combined in one full-length
presentation (rather than being broken down in
individual segments). Most of these scenes are
quite fun to watch as they expand upon some of
character interactions. Some of the highlights
* Walking the city streets, a conversation between
Marcus and Fiona shows how depressed his Mother is.
* Will participates in a motivational exercise
with the mothers of the single-parent support group
* A fun sequence where Will goes shopping for baby
items in order to fool his date. Just wait till you
see what he does with a breast pump.
* A scene where Will, Fiona and Marcus stand in
line outside of Planet Hollywood segues into
an extended version of the restaurant scene.
* Some extended couch conversation with Marcus turns
into a short tour of Will's apartment.
* Rachel visits Will's apartment and makes him an
offer he can't refuse.
Two Music Videos by Badly Drawn Boy
are available for your viewing/listening pleasure:
Silent Sigh and Something to talk about.
I absolutely loved this! Anyone that had problems
with some of the British English words in this movie
will want to watch English To English Dictionary.
This bloody off his head bloke just loved messing about
this feature....and anyone who doesn't appreciate
the hard work I put into these reviews can just
(length: approx. 3 minutes)
The film's original theatrical trailer can
be found here, in addition to an extensive cast
and filmmakers filmography and production
notes that takes us through the success of Nick
Hornby's novel to the purchase of the rights by
Robert DeNiro's film company.
There are also trailers here for Possession, A
Beautiful Mind, Meet The Parents, Notting Hill,
Erin Brokovich, Family Man and upcoming theatrical
release Johnny English.
It's not often that guys and gals can agree on
the same film -- especially when it stars none
other than Hugh Grant. About A Boy is the
exception to the rule, and I wholeheartedly
recommend this film as the perfect date flick,
or, something likable and heartwarming to watch on
any given evening.
Worth a rental!
Release Date: January 14, 2003
All screen captures have been further compressed.
They are for illustrative purposes only and do not
represent actual picture quality