Sunday, 8 March 2009

DVD Review - About A Boy

About A Boy was heralded as, "The best British film of the year!", and being British I know just what a dubious accolade that can be. However, for once, best of British can hold its head up high in the film world.

Well, I saw this when it came out in the cinema and quite happily watched it again the following week. I’m turning into a bit of a Hugh Grant junkie – Bridget Jones, Notting Hill, and now this. I loved them all, great films, and this, along with Bridget Jones, would both feature in my top ten list of all-time fave films. (Notting Hill was good, but it wasn’t THAT good). Lacking a female star of the quality of Renee Zellwegger or Julia Roberts, however, “About A Boy” relies more on him for the comedy than in those films. Happily, he is more than up to the job. Not to say that the supporting cast don’t do well enough… it’s just that they are not required to do an awful lot. It’s as if Grant has half a dozen foils for his comic talents.

The storyline revolves around Grant, a 30-something confirmed bachelor who lives off the royalties from his father’s song, “Santa’s Super Sleigh” (which he thoroughly loathes), and Marcus (played by Nicholas Hoult), a young boy struggling through life with an absent father and a mother suffering from terminal depression (the reasons for which are not really known, even to herself). Grant is happy with a life of casual relationships, and is basically a total cad. But then one day he discovers single mums, and the Single Parents Alone Together group, of which Fiona (Marcus’ mum) is a member… and then all hell breaks loose.

There are some very funny moments indeed, and the humour doesn’t loose any impact just because you’ve seen it before and know what’s coming. The scenes in school of bullying and embarrassment make you cringe, because you know what it was like to be at school, and how revolting many kids are. But, being a feel-good movie, everything works out in the end… although not entirely as you might have predicted it would…

It’s really a rites-of-passage story, told from the view of a young boy and a middle-aged (is 30-something counted as middle aged? No, probably a bit younger. After all, I’m fairly close to 30 and I’m certainly not ready to be classified as middle-aged!)… okay better make that post-twenties man who’s never really had to grow up… the other characters serve their purpose in the film but are basically peripheral. In addition to the comedy, it’s deeper and more thought-provoking than many films which try or claim to be such.

Also on the DVD are a couple of music videos by, and an interview with, Badly Drawn Boy, who supplied the excellent musical score for the film.

Okay, now for the bad bits (yes, there’s a reason why it didn’t get 5 stars despite the fact that I loved the film…)

I like me you are viewing the DVD on a computer, it automatically starts installing some damn useless piece of software without asking you, which also tries to mess up your other DVD viewing if you’re not careful. I did in fact try watching the DVD with this program first time… still had sound, but Windows (I’m was running XP at the time and can’t say whether it will do this in other versions) didn’t realise anything was actually running to went to the screensaver. Very annoying.

Also the outtakes (BONUS MATERIAL! – don’t get me started on that subject…) are unbelievably boring. It got switched off in less than 2 minutes. Two boring voices droning on about a scene not being included as it was just so mind-numbingly boring… and then another… I mean why anyone would want to put themselves through watching this is completely beyond me.

So there you have it. Great movie, good music videos, useless software, boring extra footage. To me, it’s still a very worthwhile purchase, but it’s a real shame that sloppy software and a “bung on some junk and call it BONUS FOOTAGE” philosophy have prevented this from getting the five stars that the film itself deserves.

This film made it into my - Top Ten Romantic Comedies List

Also in my Top Ten Films of 2002

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