About A Boy
Cast: Hugh Grant, Toni Collette, Rachel Weisz, Nicholas Hoult
Directors: Paul Weitz, Chris Weitz
Writers: Peter Hedges, Chris Weitz, Paul Weitz
Theatrical release: 2002; available on DVD and Netflix streaming
In this film, Hugh Grant is perfectly cast as the handsome Lothario looking for a quick one-night stand, a connection with no commitment. Based on the Nick Hornby novel of the same name, the standard premise gets a twist in the film.
Our perpetual and skittish bachelor focuses on a new target, single moms, thinking they'll be grateful for his attention, unwilling to get back into a relationship that might quickly go south again, and thus, easier for him to cast aside when he's finished.
But — surprise, surprise — the cad has a heart. It's not the mom he's dating who gets to him. Instead it's her 12-year-old son, geek though he is, who idolizes our hero and, in the process, humanizes him, too.
More than in many of his other films, Grant proves here he can act — show emotion, offer a plausible self-examination, and engage with the more serious parts of the plot. He's also as good as ever at demonstrating the charmingly self-deprecating wit we've come to associate with his comedic talent.
For whatever reason you might choose to watch About A Boy, you'll find a warm-hearted story, a lovable boy, and a man who grows up to be a decent chap after all.