Directed by: Chris Weitz, Paul Weitz
Written by:Peter Hedges, Chris Weitz, Paul Weitz
Starring: Hugh Grant, Toni Collette, Rachel Weisz, Sharon Small, Nicholas Hoult
Released: August 1, 2002
Grade: A-

Someone once said, I think it was Jon Bon Jovi, that no man is an island.  He’s 38, unmarried, few friends and no job - Will (Grant) is exactly where he wants to be in life.  Each day of the “Will Show” is divided into half hour units - he bathes, he watches TV, he plays pool, he does nothing.  From his swanky apartment, he lives off royalties from a famous song, the rights he inherited when his father passed away.

Introduced to a divorced woman with a young child, Will has a revelation.  Not that there’s more to life than just himself, but that single mums are a market he hasn’t explored.  So he goes to a meeting where single parents can talk about their problems.  Of course Nick doesn’t have a child so he makes one up to win a date with one of the women he meets.

It backfires of course but from within the group, he meets a 12-year-old named Marcus (Hoult) and his mother Fiona (Collette).  Fiona is suffering from massive depression and unsuccessfully tries to take her own life.  Being bullied at school and with nowhere else to turn, Marcus turns up at Will’s door and starts hanging out with him in his bachelor pad.  Will wants no part of it but Marcus insistence sees them become best buds.  Both have their troubles but together are finding an unspoken comfort in each other.

Not long after, Will meets Rachel (Weisz) at a New Year’s Eve party and after a couple of dates, a relationship starts building.  Will’s world is changing way too quickly and he’s struggling to come to grips with it all.  It’s been a one-man ensemble for so long.  Is he prepared to break his long standing routine and give in to the feelings he’s long surpressed?

In recent cinema, we go through phases where writers gain sudden notoriety.  In the early 1990s, everyone was obsessed with John Grisham and his crime stories such as The Firm, The Client and A Time To Kill.  Then, Jane Austin was all the rage with her elegantly crafted love tales including Sense And Sensibility, Emma and Mansfield Park.  Now, English writer Nick Hornby has arrived with his fresh comedic wit lacing the screen in Fever Pitch, High Fidelity and now About A Boy.

The trouble with any book adaptation is that it’s not a matter of what to include in the story but rather what to leave out.  Unfortunately, some parts of the story are glazed over but the essence of Will’s coming of age still comes through.  A surprising choice to adapt an English tale, American directors Paul and Chris Weitz (American Pie) make this a great follow up to their original smash hit.  Both films epitomise the importance of life and the importance of friendship.

Impossible to dislike, it’s a perfect feel good movie with a realistic feel.  There are times when we all wish we could be independent like Will but as he learns, and we’ve learnt too, it’s not a permanent lifestyle.  Many people see Hugh Grant as a one-dimensional fluffy actor but he’s the right person to tell this story About A Boy.  The most difficult role belonged to youngster Nicholas Hoult who has certainly made his first impressions count.

There’s nothing better than popping along with some friends, kicking back with a bucket of popcorn and appreciating a movie without once having to glance at your watch.  It’s also great to see someone on screening going through the dramas and learning the lessons that we can all relate too.  And it’s true - life is always better when you let other people in.