The movies previously featured in Rambling Ever On’s immensely popular1 series, “Rambling Ever On Revisits”, have been well-known classics. In this installment, I’ve broken the mold by selecting a lesser-known film, About a Boy. As such, the film would also fit in our series of overlooked movies. Therefore, I’m providing our readers twice the information at no additional charge!2 Although About a Boy is a relatively youthful 19 years old, being the least-watched of our “Revisits”, a viewing was long overdue.
About A Boy
About a Boy stars Hugh Grant, Nicholas Hoult, Toni Collette, and Rachel Weisz. A segment of our readers just saw Hugh Grant’s name and is ready to abandon ship while another segment is already 100% on board. Despite appearances, this is not your typical Hugh Grant film.
Beyond general excellence in writing, dialog, acting, directing, etc. About a Boy stands out in several ways. First, the movie is a genre-bender. The film is not revolutionary in this regard. About a Boy blends the same genres many other films have combined prior. However, the achievement of balance is what sets it apart. Is the predominant focus on comedy, romance, coming of age drama, family drama, or friendship? The answer is a resounding yes to all of these! About a Boy shines the spotlight on many genres giving each equal weight and ample focus. Very few films have done this better.
The story of About a Boy deals with some serious stuff. Even the best dramas have succumbed to the danger of depressing their audience from pervasive gravitas. Humor often serves as a counterbalance to dramatic weight. But the pitfall with humor is when used disproportionally or at inopportune moments it weakens the drama. Or worse, the resulting tone of a scene is too silly for the story. About a Boy expertly walks this tightrope and in this regard is second to none. The humor is both funny and seamlessly interwoven into the story while the dramatic moments have their intended effect. Neither overshadows the other.
Music is vital to the success of any film.
A substandard soundtrack stands out in all the wrong ways. The music in About a Boy is from a nontraditional source: a musician rather than a movie composer. Damon Gough (whose stage name is Badly Drawn Boy) was given complete control of the soundtrack. Gough not only wrote all the music but performed it as well. Straying from the beaten path is always a risk and possibly one of the biggest fears of Hollywood. Gough rewarded that risk with an amazing soundtrack that is somehow both unique and familiar. Different yet comfortable. The movie is worth watching just to hear the music.
Finally, I will briefly note that About a Boy was Nicholas Hoult’s first casting in film. While not the youngest debut in Hollywood, Hoult was only 12 years of age during filming. Yet Hoult’s performance was as natural and believable as the other experienced and established members of the cast. Quality acting from children, especially in their debut, is a rare occurrence.
By now my conclusion for this Revisit should be apparent: About a Boy has stood the test of time! The movie is as enjoyable today as it was in 2002. Absolutely nothing in the film feels dated including the humor and social interactions.
Content advisory: About a Boy is rated PG-13 exclusively for language including one use of the “F” bomb.