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HTF REVIEW: "About A Boy" (with screenshots)

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#1 of 19 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted December 28 2002 - 10:10 AM

Posted Image

About A Boy

Studio: Universal
Year: 2002
Rated: PG-13
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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

Special Features

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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.

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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
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.

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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
Bugger Off!
(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
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.

Final Thoughts

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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


Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner


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#2 of 19 OFFLINE   Joshua_Y



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Posted December 28 2002 - 10:20 AM

I LOVE this movie! Cant wait to pick up the disc. Great review and maybe your opinion of Hugh has changed. Posted Image

#3 of 19 OFFLINE   kevin_asai


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Posted December 28 2002 - 02:13 PM

Watched it a few months ago and I loved it. I will pick this up when it comes out. Posted Image The English To English Dictionary featurette sounds interesting.

#4 of 19 OFFLINE   Julia*D



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Posted December 28 2002 - 05:55 PM

Great review! I really loved this movie and will definitely get this disc when it comes out.

#5 of 19 OFFLINE   Peter Kim

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Posted December 28 2002 - 07:36 PM

Pool me in the same group that originally found Grant cloying and one-dimensional, despite the anglophile in me. After Bridget Jones's Diary, my disdain dissolved, and now I'm anxiously awaiting the release of About a Boy. If for nothing else, I'll buy the dvd for the English to English dictionary. This whole package looks very fun.
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#6 of 19 OFFLINE   JohnDMoore


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Posted December 28 2002 - 09:02 PM

One of my favorite films of 2002. I'll be picking this up as soon as I can get to a store.
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#7 of 19 OFFLINE   Jenna


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Posted December 29 2002 - 12:44 AM

Thanks so much for reviewing this one, Ron. I had my doubts about seeing a Hugh Grant film review (in this male-dominated society), so you've restored my faith.

Skipped this one in the theater because I knew I'd buy the DVD (sight-unseen), so I've been anxiously awaiting the release date (despite the repeated delays). Sorry, but I can't wait to get another dose of that "boyish charm".
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#8 of 19 OFFLINE   Chad A Wright

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Posted December 29 2002 - 02:04 AM

I review films as part of my job. That means I'm forced to see a lot of movies I don't want to. In the month of may there were things like Spider-Man and Star Wars, so I was dreaded seeing this film. I was greatly surprised by it. I was one of my favorite films of 2002. I just wish the DVD would have been out sooner.

#9 of 19 OFFLINE   Matthew Chmiel

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Posted December 29 2002 - 06:27 AM

Am I the only one upset that Universal removed the 21 minute featurette Born In The UK - Interview With Badly Drawn Boy for the R1 DVD release? It was on the R2 release and it was even mentioned on some websites when the disc was announced, but I'm guessing it did not make it to DVD, even when there was enough space. Posted Image I would take this over the English to English Dictionary (which was not on the R2 release).

Oh well, I'll still probably end up buying the DVD.

#10 of 19 OFFLINE   John Berggren

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Posted December 31 2002 - 07:27 AM

So whatever came of the trouble with "Killing Me Softly"?
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#11 of 19 OFFLINE   Nate Anderson

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Posted January 13 2003 - 03:09 PM

I also can't wait to see this one. I missed it in theatres and am anxiously awaiting it's release tomorrow. I loved the book and the movie looks like it was pretty faithful...

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Chad, I love that exchange...I wish I was that quick sometimes...
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#12 of 19 OFFLINE   Brajesh Upadhyay

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Posted January 14 2003 - 08:31 AM

From dvdtimes.co.uk:
[quote] (21 Mins)

A very interesting interview with Badly Drawn Boy that explores many of the singer/songwriter's passions and feelings on life and music, along with the pressures of being famous. Usually extra material on such a mainstream film rarely strays from promotional filler, but this is a strong extra that fans of Badly Drawn Boy will be very happy about [quote]
Yep Matthew, this extra sounds interesting. But, what's included in the U.S. DVD still sounds pretty good. To me, the film itself is most important. I saw "About a Boy" theatrically & it looks to be a film that'll hold up well on repeated viewings.

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#13 of 19 OFFLINE   Mike Nelms

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Posted January 15 2003 - 02:18 AM

The wife picked this one up yesterday. We have yet to watch it. I was not very excitied for many of the reasons others stated (including Ron) above. Now after reading the review I will go into it with a much better attitude. Thanks! Mike

#14 of 19 OFFLINE   Kevin Leonard

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Posted January 15 2003 - 11:09 AM

[quote] Am I the only one upset that Universal removed the 21 minute featurette Born In The UK - Interview With Badly Drawn Boy for the R1 DVD release? It was on the R2 release and it was even mentioned on some websites when the disc was announced, but I'm guessing it did not make it to DVD, even when there was enough space. [quote] Just finished watching the DVD, and the 21-minute BDB interview is on there.
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#15 of 19 OFFLINE   MattMB



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Posted January 16 2003 - 05:00 AM

I'm quite a fan of "British" humor and tend to pick up most of Hugh Grant's movies because I enjoy the dry humor and my wife enjoys the stories. We rented "About a Boy" last night, and I found myself laughing for a majority of the movie. (The "Godfather" scene is hilarious!) I like this movie better than a majority of the movies I've bought in the past few months. ie. Spiderman, AotC and others.. "About a Boy" is a very good movie.

#16 of 19 OFFLINE   Nate Anderson

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Posted January 16 2003 - 05:05 AM

[quote] Just finished watching the DVD, and the 21-minute BDB interview is on there. [quote]

I can confirm this. It is definately on there...
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#17 of 19 OFFLINE   Piers C

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Posted January 16 2003 - 09:48 AM

Random question...is the character "Susie" Irish? I could not place the accent in the film.

#18 of 19 OFFLINE   MattMB



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Posted January 17 2003 - 12:56 AM

[quote] Random question...is the character "Susie" Irish? I could not place the accent in the film. [quote]

or scottish, has a heavy Gaelic speech pattern

#19 of 19 OFFLINE   Christian Preischl

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Posted January 17 2003 - 01:36 AM

[quote] I can confirm this. It is definately on there... [quote] Thanks for the update, Kevin and Nate.

Incidentally, I got my disc today. It also contains the complete Santa's Super-Sleigh song with lyrics. I know a friend of mine who's gonna be very happy about that. Posted Image
You can actually even see those entries in the menu in Ron's review.


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