Main cast: Hugh Grant (Will), Nicholas Hoult (Marcus), Sharon Small (Christine), Toni Collette (Fiona), and Rachel Weisz (Rachel)
Directors: Chris and Paul Weitz
I apologize in advance to readers expecting a fair, balanced review. By the time I watch this movie, I’m thoroughly annoyed by (predominantly male) movie critics raving about how this movie is “not a chick flick”, it is so much better than a chick flick because… er, yeah, why exactly? The women in this movie are portrayed as equally needy or gullible as the women in chick flicks. Wait, I get it! This movie celebrates male asshole-dom despite a rushed redemption angle – they gave Jack Nicholson an Oscar for the father of all jackass-ery “romantic” movies, As Good as It Gets, so why I am surprised that they like this movie? Duh, I’m still so naïve sometimes.
Not that I’m surprised at how infantile this movie is. Nick Hornby seems very good at creating infantile men loved by women who should know better. In this latest adaptation of his books, Will is a lazy bum who just spends his time dating, getting his hair done, and whining that he isn’t so bad a guy. In a serendipitous move, he discovers that single mothers are the perfect dates. They break off with him soon, blaming themselves for not being able to commit (the kid and all, y’know), thus flattering his ego as well as giving him a free pass to move on. Perfect! While dating a single mother, he gets to know the boy of the single mother’s emotionally needy sister. This boy, Marcus, will soon be his catalyst to change and all that rot.
Frankly, I’m more surprised at two things. One, I actually find Hugh Grant dead sexy in this one. It’s his hair, I tell you. Who would’ve thought that short spiky hairdo can make me go so ummm? But soon, I become really tired of Mr Grant’s deliberately keeping his voice to that low, contrived manly baritone throughout the whole movie. If he’s annoying playing a milquetoast, he’s just as annoying playing a rogue.
I’m also surprised that the guys behind American Pie are the ones behind this movie too. Who would’ve thought?
But this movie tries too hard to be cynical and ironic that by the second hour, the whole deliberate sardony becomes weary and obvious. The plot is predictable, thus coupled with the trying-too-hard atmosphere of contrived stylish cynicism, this movie wears me down in the end. Also, the women in this story are portrayed most pathetically as needy, codependent creatures clinging to a man at all costs. Toni Collette tries, but her character is so painfully thin in characterization that watching her is like watching someone drink herself to death. Painful.
As for Marcus, ah well, he’s annoying. Let’s leave it at that.
I don’t know. I’m just worn out watching this too-long movie winding itself down without even knowing how broken down it has become as the minutes drag. About a Boy, from its painfully obvious wannabe-smart title (who’s the boy, Will or Marcus, geddit, people?) to every painfully self-conscious witty lines and expected plot twists, is just another movie catering to the male ego. As an equivalent to women’s much derided “wedding porn movies”, this sort of movies would be the equivalent pornographic opiates for the male masses.