This British film is one of those movies that sticks in your mind, and you find yourself thinking about at odd moments. The three primary characters are Will (Hugh Grant), Marcus (Nicholas Hoult), and Fiona (Toni Collette). Will is a man in his 30s, who lives off the royalties from a hit song his father wrote many years ago. He lives alone (by choice), and is self-centered and shallow. He hatches a scheme to meet single mothers, thinking it will mean sex without having to worry about a long-term relationship. On a picnic with a single mother, he meets and befriends 12-year-old Marcus, who is coming along because his mother, Fiona, is having a “bad day.” When they take Marcus home, they discover Fiona has made a suicide attempt with pills.
The movie is based on a novel by Nick Hornby. The screenplay writers (Peter Hedges, Chris Weitz, and Paul Weitz) drew directly from the book in many cases, and tweeked some things, getting a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. They handled difficult subjects with humor and grace. This movie is funny the way life is funny, even while it makes you think. I’ve only watched it a few times (we inherited the DVD), and every time I watch it I get more out of it. The most obvious message is about relationships — Will likes to think you can be an island and be happy, but he discovers the importance of relationships. He starts caring about Will, and then discovers a woman he cares about (Rachel, played by Rachel Weisz). We are also led to think about how parents have a major influence on their kids, and about creating room for kids to discover who they are. Fiona has a chance to still create that room for Marcus, but Will is dealing with his own bequeathed issues.
“About a Boy” is listed as a comedy/drama/romance, and the IMDb site gives it 7.3 stars. It is rated PG-13 for brief strong language and some thematic elements. The DVD runs 101 minutes. While IMDb uses a ten-star rating system, I use a five-star system, and give this movie a 4. Am looking forward to watching it again, to see what else it makes me think about. 🙂