Monster Music & Movies

025192245220
About A Boy
Artist: Grant/Weisz/Collette/Brook/Hoult
Format: DVD
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It's easy to dislike Hugh Grant. It's even easier to dislike thefilms of Hugh Grant, since most of them are a bit, well... dainty. He'smade a living out of being a standard issue waffler in more romantic comediesthan any sane person (read: man) could bear to recall.

But lately, something's changed. Grant has shifted from his default setting(stuttering fop with floppy hair) to something a little more sinister, choosingroles that feature him less lighthearted and heavier on the heel. In "BridgetJones's Diary," he became a veritable cad-a masher likely tobe on the receiving end of a good purse-thrashing. A cheeky rapscallion, asgrandma would say. He continues the trend in "About a Boy." This isa very good thing.

This is also a very smart thing, because Grant is not a kid anymore. A man overforty with a Flock of Seagulls 'do who isn't the drummer for the RollingStones is not a man. Shedding his flaccid locks (and with them, almost everytrace of the weepy catalogue he's built up over the years) has swept thesympathy from his face, lending him a languid, predatory glare. Shorn, his eyesare colder, calculating. Think of the potential of such an easy cosmetic trickon someone like Ben Affleck, who would be a much more compelling screen presenceif he simply cut off his entire head.

But lest this barber-ism leads you to think me something of a ponce, let'sget to the movie: "About a Boy" is an adaptation of Nick Hornby'smiscreant novel directed by les fr`eres Weitz, the gentlemen behind "AmericanPie." It's surprising that the pair chose such an inherently Britishbook for their follow-up film (and perhaps more surprising that they resistedany sophomoric impulses to simply make the same film again, just abroad-a"Shepherd's Pie," if you will). What's unexpected is thatthe credibility they brought to teen relationships in their previous film survivestranslation across the pond and across the age difference of their leading duo.See, it's actually about two boys.

Grant is but one, a shallow trustafarian named Will who attends single parentsupport groups with the aim of picking up attractive moms. The second is Marcus,the pre-teen misfit son of a single mother who grafts himself to Will. Marcussees Will as a sort of father figure. Will sees Marcus as a pain in the arse.Yet despite their difference in age, the two are more contemporaries than eitherof them realize: the younger wiser beyond his years, the older emotionally immatureto the point of cocoonery. It's like "Fight Club" meets "ABronx Tale," only in London, and with a lot less blood-self-discoveryabove the subcultural underbelly.

Yes, there is a romantic element to the story, but it is dealt with deftly-emotionalwithout a trace of mawkishness. Like Billy Wilder (a snap comparison they seemon track to actually earn) these guys don't linger, and they wouldn'tknow saccharine if they were buried under a mountain of Sweet'N Low. Detailingthe pitfalls of adapting a book to film makes their commentary track more insightfulthan most. Also included is an "English-to-English" dictionary toaid those unfamiliar with British slang, seven deleted scenes that don'tsuck, and in a thematic musical choice, not one, but two videos by Badly DrawnBoy. Don't miss this disc.
        
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