A chubby-faced Nicholas Hoult, with a shocking haircut, and a cynical, yet somehow redeemable pathological liar (Hugh Grant), team up in a film that’s buzzing with the spirit of Christmas.
To be quite honest, I’ve always thought Hugh Grant was a bit of a tosser… until I saw this film. Yes, he plays the womanising, I-don’t-give-two-shits-about-anyone-but-myself character, but for once he is somewhat likeable, because beneath his whole “I am an island” mantra – (“I’m a bloody island, I’m bloody Ibiza!” he shouts in frustration at one point) – this character actually does have a heart, and he comes to truly care for the peculiar 12 year old (Nicholas Hoult) who takes to coming around his house every afternoon to escape school bullies and his fragile mother.
About A Boy (2002) is essentially a dual coming-of-age story; while Marcus (Hoult) is the boy who’s growing up, Will (Grant) also goes through a transition to maturity, as he discovers a life of fulfilment requires more than just the material things. Then in the midst of all this is Marcus’ mother; the absolutely barmy, yet well-intentioned Fiona (Toni Collette), who strives to be an emotional anchor for her son, but most of the time it ends up the other way around. Through a series of absurd, yet also hilarious scenes, as well as some sincerely touching moments, these three outcasts begin to form a family of sorts, and it all comes to fruition at Christmastime.
Each of the three main actors are completely on point in this film; Collette reminds us of her natural prowess, Grant is full of pleasant surprises, and Hoult signals his strong future in acting (Skins, Mad Max: Fury Road), while being an apt manifestation of ugly duckling syndrome – I mean, seriously, look at that transformation! Combine this with a terrific script (based on the novel by Nick Hornby) that’s overflowing with perfectly written dialogue, and you have a feel-good film on your hands that’s just screaming “pick me!” for viewing on Christmas day.
Images courtesy of United International Pictures