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He Said, She Said Review Site

About a Boy

What She said:

She

Let me be upfront—I like this movie.  This most recent viewing was not the first time I saw About a Boy.  However, it was the first time I managed to tie The He down to watch it together.  It was also the first time I had seen the film in a few years, so I was watching it again with almost fresh eyes. 

Anyway, About a Boy does exactly what it says it does in the title.  It tells the story of a boy named Marcus.  However, it actually focuses more on another character, an older gent named Will.  Will is in his 40s, single, devoid of family, and has no means of employment.  He actually lives off family wealth that was earned by his father who wrote a one-hit-wonder Christmas song.  So Will has no real meaning in his life.  He just floats from day to day and woman to woman. 

About a Boy

Will envisions a new way of bagging desperate women—attending help groups for single moms.  Through it, he meets a woman who agrees to go out on a date with him.  However, she ends up dragging along her child and another boy named Marcus, the son of an ailing friend.  This is where Will and Marcus meet for the first time, but it’s only the beginning for them.  It turns out that Will’s mom is dealing with some serious issues.  She actually attempts suicide at one point.  Marcus is desperate to escape his home life, but school is not much better.  He decides the best way to cheer up his mother is to get her a boyfriend, and thinks that Will fits the bill just fine.  He virtually blackmails Will into hanging out with him and his mother, but things don’t click with mom and she quickly drops out of the picture.  Instead, Marcus starts visiting Will every day after school and the two develop a bond.

Will has his world turned upside down when he meets Rachel, who he believes is the perfect woman.  However, with little worthwhile in his life, he feels like he must prove himself to her.  In a desperate attempt to bond with Rachel, he decides to pretend Marcus is his son.  Rachel, herself, has a son in Marcus’s grade.  So, anyway, this shenanigan goes on, and as it does Will and Marcus become closer and closer, developing a fairly significant father/son relationship, and growing as people.  Marcus becomes more confident in his skin, and Will does the same.  He also finally feels like he has some purpose in his life.

About a Boy

About a Boy falls under the classification of British comedy.  Hugh Grant plays Will, and he brings a little something extra to the role.  It’s not his typical rom-com faire.  There’s more depth to the character.  Marcus is played by Nicholas Hoult, who at the time was an up-and-coming young actor.  The two engage in delightful banter that is both funny and at times heartwarming.  You see, this film does a good job of being witty and comical, and yet also dealing with some serious themes like bullying, mental illness, and divorce.  And that’s what really makes this movie great—the fact that it’s able to achieve this in a well-crafted and functional way.  The movie doesn’t feel too serious, but also has a hint of darkness.  It has a very nice balance.

Toni Collette plays Marcus’s mother, Fiona.  She’s both troubled and loving.  Collette conveys her character’s struggles with depression in a way that makes her believable.  It’s not too dramatic, but ever-present as she tries to move forward with her life.  And yet she genuinely cares about her son and wants him to be an independent and confident young man.  Rachel Weisz plays Rachel, and her son, Ali, is hilarious.  The kid is such a brat.  Rachel’s character actually brings some balance to Will and helps him to strive to become a better person.

Although this film was released 12 years ago, it still seems somewhat fresh and relevant.  Yes, some of the styles have changed slightly, but the themes and struggles are still on point.  This is a good movie for a family with teenagers to watch together.  It’s the right amount of funny blended with good topics that elicit some real contemplative thought.

Thumbs up.

About a Boy

 

What He said:

He

I don’t know where the She got this idea from, but she insists I have been resisting watching this movie since the beginning of time. First of all, she’s only mentioned it a few times in passing. There was no big sell for this movie followed by flat out refusal to watch it. Additionally, if I didn’t want to watch it, it’s because, you know me (if you come here somewhat regularly). You know I prefer escapism. Action heroes and heroines, monsters, aliens, zombies, vampires, superheroes, are some of what I would choose if always given my choice. I have a hard time getting pumped up for dramas. Technically this is more of a comedy/drama, but still.

About a Boy

I’m just going to go ahead and put this out there – Will Freeman is a douchebag. He’s a single guy who lives off the royalties of a song his father wrote many years ago. There’s nothing wrong with being single or not wanting to be in a long term relationship; it’s the way he goes about it that rubs me the wrong way. You see, Will (Hugh Grant) will say just about anything to get a date.

Take the time he pretended to be a single father and attended single parent support group meetings, for example. Yeah, you heard me right. He actually said he was a single father struggling to raise his son just so he could meet women. He targeted single moms because he thought they would be easy to win over.

One of those women is a gal named Suzie (Victoria Surfit). Will and Suzie hit it off during one of their meetings and agree to go on a few dates. One of the date is a picnic with the support group and their children. Suzie is asked to watch her friend’s son Marcus (Nicholas Hoult), so he’s tagging along on the date.

Marcus’ mom (played by Toni Collete) has some health problems and Suzie and Will end up taking care of Marcus for a bit. Marcus takes a liking to Will. He also wants to cheer his mom (Fiona) up, so he convinces Will to go out on a date with her. The date doesn’t go so well, but Marcus still enjoys Will’s company.

About a Boy

Marcus is also the victim of bullying at school.  It’s a shame, there’s really nothing wrong with the kid. Not that picking on anyone is anything I ever condone, but the kids are Marcus’ school seem to target him for little-to-no reason at all. As a result of this, and the fact he is a little enamored with Will, Marcus begins to stop by Marcus’ place after school. It’s almost every day too. He simply likes being around the guy. It makes him feel like he has a friend. He thinks Will is cool and needs somewhere to hide from both the bullies and his mother’s health problems.

Will goes back and forth between feeling inconvenienced by and responsible for Marcus. Marcus basically blackmailed his way into Will’s life, but he starts liking the kid after a while. But it’s one of those things that the second something goes wrong, Will wants the kid out of his life.

Will needs Marcus though when he meets what he thinks to be the woman of his dreams. Rachel (played by Rachel Weisz) is a smart gal with a kid who actually goes to Marcus’ school. Instead of just being himself, Will again concocts a story about him being a father, but this time instead of a pretend infant that doesn’t exist, he convinces Marcus to playing the part of his son. Their uneasy relationship is renewed and the story proceeds from there.

I don’t hide the fact I have troubled getting psyched up for dramas, but every once and a while once comes along that I like; and watching them comes rather easy. Little Miss Sunshine is one that comes to mind.  Salmon Fishing in the Yemen and Parenthood are a few others.

About a Boy

This movie is a charming little movie. It’s funny, heartwarming, and for some reason I’m always a sucker for movies that have characters who end up becoming “family” by the time it’s done. I think it’s because I like the idea of people who are not forced to hang out with one another choosing to hang out with one another. Your family is born into your life and you theirs. But I always found the idea of strangers getting to know and love one another, in a completely non-romantic way, really appealing.

Hugh Grant was solid. This was after his slew of romantic comedies in the 90s, so if you are leery of that, have no fears. This is not a romantic comedy at all. There’s a love interest, but it’s not the dominating aspect of the storyline.
Nicholas Hoult was also good too. This was his first movie and he’s pretty famous now. I can see why – the guy has talent and did from his very first movie. He’s funny, makes you feel for him, etc.
Toni Collette plays troubled and struggling characters quite well. The Sixth Sense and United States of Tara are a few examples of that. This movie is another one. She’s just really good at playing slightly flawed, struggling, or completely damaged people.

Rachel Weisz was also good, despite the role not being a huge part. The kid playing her son was absolutely hilarious and he had an even smaller role. He had some of the funniest moments of the movie.
Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on November 2, 2014.