“In my opinion, all men are islands.” – Will Freeman
Endearing comedy about a 38-year old bachelor who has never held a job. About a Boy (2002) isn’t about Hugh Grant (as Will Freeman) getting one. He lives off of eternal royalties from the song “Santa’s Super Sleigh” that was composed by his late father, and so he lives his days vegging on the couch, spoiling himself on fashion, and dating pretty but superficial women. He meets one pretty woman by posing as a single father at a support group, gets a date with a strong-minded woman (Rachel Weisz) and she points out to him that he hasn’t a passion or drive for anything because he lives vainly. This bugs him.
Will gets drawn into the lives of a depressed single mom (Toni Collette) and her 12-year old geek son Marcus (Nicholas Hoult, now in this weekend’s blockbuster “Jack the Giant Slayer” all grown up). The actor himself is hopelessly geeky, about as potent as Kool-Aid. He plays a kid who likes girls but is nevertheless an effeminate peach of a lad. Marcus harasses Will because he knows he’s a fraud single parent, and in exchange for keeping his mouth shut, he wants Will to teach him how to be a winner, or at least how to be less of a loser. Teaching him to wear a different hat perhaps.
The egotistical bachelor goes through a seasonal change. Going through life without working or caring for something eventually leaves one spiritually desolate. It doesn’t have to be a job for a paycheck, but even a well-off guy like Will must feel the need to be responsible for something. And so his mentoring of Marcus into a cool kid becomes his occupation.
The goal for Marcus is to get up in front of the school auditorium and sing “Killing Me Softly,” a girly soft ballad that is all mush. Will tries to stop him, but the lesson here is: If you can’t stop him, join him. I have no idea how the Nick Hornsby novel reads, but I imagine it whisks along amicably. The movie does that, too, but the bonus is seeing these actors’ dimples.
For a lark, I thought I’d print Will’s explanation of his daily regimen:
I find the key is to think of a day as units of time, each unit consisting of no more than thirty minutes. Full hours can be a little bit intimidating and most activities take about half an hour. Taking a bath: one unit, watching countdown: one unit, web-based research: two units, exercising: three units, having my hair carefully disheveled: four units. It’s amazing how the day fills up, and I often wonder, to be absolutely honest, if I’d ever have time for a job; how do people cram ‘em in?
COMEDY / MILD & CHARMING / WEEKEND WITH A GLASS OF WINE MOVIE
100 Minutes. Rated PG-13.
Film Cousins: “Three Men and a Baby” (1987); “High Fidelity” (2000); “Bridget Jones’s Diary” (2001); “Alfie” (2004).