11 days into The Third Annual James Proclaims Advent Calendar of Christmas(ish) Films and we arrive at 2002’s About a Boy. Which is about a boy. And also some other people.
Adapted from the 1998 novel by Nick Hornby (an author who occupies God-like status in my esteem) About a Boy is not really like any other movie. And that is a very much a good thing. It deals with some pretty serious issues such as mental health and bullying but manages to remain light in tone and eminently feel-good throughout. A young Nicholas Hoult gives an early indication of the career that awaits him and delivers an excellent performance as Marcus, the ‘boy’ of the title. This is very much Hugh Grant’s movie though. Being a fan of the book, I wasn’t especially convinced that Grant was the right choice for the role, but with the benefit of hindsight, it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing the part of shallow but self-aware Will.
About a Boy is a near perfect adaptation of what is arguably Hornby’s best novel. Thow in a completely original soundtrack by Badly Drawn Boy and it really doesn’t get much better.
Score for Christmasishness
It’s not ostensibly a Christmas movie but two Christmases feature in the story – one at quite a pivotal stage in the development of the relationship between Will and Marcus and one at the denouement of the movie, which wraps the narrative up rather appropriately. Throw in the fact that Will’s bachelor-pad lifestyle is funded solely through the royalties generated by a Christmas song that his father wrote and there is certainly enough to evoke a Christmas(ish) feeling to this film.