About a Boy

Critics Consensus

About a Boy benefits tremendously from Hugh Grant's layered performance, as well as a funny, moving story that tugs at the heartstrings without tilting into treacle.



Total Count: 187


Audience Score

User Ratings: 31,164,074
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Movie Info

Will is a 36-year-old underachiever with a fear of commitment that leads him to seek out relationships with single mothers, on the assumption that they are more desperate. However, plans go awry when he befriends with Marcus, the weird 12-year-old son of his latest target. Soon, Will and Marcus become friends, and as Will teaches Marcus how to be a cool kid, Marcus helps Will finally to grow up.


Sharon Small
as Christine
Laura Kennington
as Ellie's Friend #1
Tanika Swaby
as Ellie's Friend #2
Peter McNicholl
as Ellie's Friend #3
Christopher Webster
as Ellie's Friend #4
Jack Warren
as Lee's Sidekick
Russell Barr
as Maitre D'
Paulette Williams
as Bitter Ex-Girlfriend #1
Fritha Goodey
as Bitter Ex-Girlfriend #2
Susannah Doyle
as Bitter Ex-Girlfriend #3
Delma Walsh
as Bitter Ex-Girlfriend #4
Tessa Vale
as Class Teacher
Lorna Dallison
as Woman in Supermarket
Bethany Muir
as Child in Supermarket
Sue Hyams
as SPAT Woman #1
Maggie Kahal
as SPAT Woman #2
Lynn Askew
as SPAT Woman #3
Beverly Milward
as SPAT Woman #4
Danielle Harvey
as SPAT Woman #5
Sarah King
as SPAT Woman #7
Susan Ghamsary
as SPAT Woman #8
Edna Johnson
as SPAT Woman #9
Frog Stone
as Mothercare Shop Assistant
Buddy Hunter
as Family Member #1 in Mothercare Car Park
Kristine Perrin
as Family Member #2 in Mothercare Car Park
Nathan Perrin-Hunter
as Family Member #3 in Mothercare Car Park
Rachael Perrin-Hunter
as Family Member #4 in Mothercare Car Park
Amy Craven
as Suzie's Baby Megan
Sydney Livingstone
as Park Keeper
Joanne Petitt
as Hairdresser
Jason Salkey
as Amnesty International Worker Tom
Annabelle Apsion
as Amnesty International Worker #1
Matt Wilkinson
as Amnesty International Worker #2
Peter Roy
as Will's Dad
Matthew James Thomas
as Candy Thrower #1
Aaron Keeling
as Candy Thrower #2
Scott Charles
as Candy Thrower #3
Claire Harman
as Skechers Shopgirl
Sian Martin
as Cute Waitress
Rosalind Knight
as Lindsey's Mum
Murray Lachlan Young
as New Year's Eve Party Guest
Alex Kew
as Simon Cosgrove
Mark Heap
as Math Teacher
James Marshall-Gunn
as Def Penalty Kru #2
Jamie Mayer
as Def Penalty Kru #3
Korede Obashju
as Def Penalty Kru #4
Roger Brierley
as Mr. Chalmers, the M.C.
Steffan Pejic
as Apple Thrower
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Critic Reviews for About a Boy

All Critics (187) | Top Critics (47) | Fresh (174) | Rotten (13)

  • Even people who don't usually like Hugh Grant will be charmed by him in the scrappy, slightly scandalous comedy About a Boy.

    Feb 10, 2014 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • The directors Paul and Chris Weitz -- the American Pie brothers -- have tried hard not to make a tearjerker, and at its best the movie is knowing and tart.

    Feb 10, 2014

    David Denby

    New Yorker
    Top Critic
  • Mainstream comedies should all be this funny and tender and deftly performed.

    Feb 10, 2014 | Full Review…

    David Edelstein

    Top Critic
  • Hugh Grant hilariously redefines the word "playboy" in the first half of this film, then gets human, without losing his comic edge, under the influence of the title waif.

    Feb 10, 2014 | Full Review…
  • About a Boy is better than a feelgood movie, it's a feelgreat movie -- genuinely clever, affecting when you least expect it to be and funny from start to finish.

    Feb 10, 2014
  • Compared to High Fidelity, the book and the movie, About A Boy seems resolutely uncool.... But part of growing up may be admitting that such familiar comforts can also be immensely satisfying.

    Feb 10, 2014 | Full Review…

    Scott Tobias

    AV Club
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for About a Boy

  • May 28, 2015
    Sadly sung and softly strung Badly Drawn Boy - soundtrack innovators of About A Boy - are the real narrators of the Weitz Brothers' melancholy black comedy. Hugh Grant, Nicholas Hoult and Toni Collette all give brave and committed performances throughout. The film is good, funny, relateable, realistic and sadder than it would like to admit.
    Harry W Super Reviewer
  • Jul 01, 2011
    Christine: You will end up childless and alone. Will: Well, fingers crossed, yeah. I was really surprised with just how good this movie was despite the rave reviews. Since it's a labeled a "Romantic Comedy;" I didn't have very high expectations. It's not the standard, generic romantic comedy and it's really not that romantic. It's not about Will getting the girl, but about a kid showing him how empty his life really is and helping him make more of it, which allows him to get into a real relationship. It doesn't show us the same garbage that most romantic comedies just recycle into different settings. It's a fresh and new experience, so don't let the rom-com label keep you from seeing this movie.
    Melvin W Super Reviewer
  • Jun 19, 2011
    Hugh Grant can only act one way but for some strange reason I do enjoy his films and even though his films aren't amazing they are easy to watch and About A Boy is the same with a nice little plot, Some good English comedy thrown in, It's pretty good and clever.
    Jamie C Super Reviewer
  • Sep 25, 2010
    7.8/10 Normally, I would have hated a film like “About a Boy”. On the outside, this film is a pretty huge cliché. It’s predictable but never boring. Now, the reason I did like the film is because it isn’t like most films of its type. Though familiar, “About a Boy” is a film about how people cope with things. Funny, since this should by all means be a film about human relationships. But underneath, it’s not about that sort of thing. Sure, the two central characters help each-other make contact with the opposite sex, but the film never descends into “one of those films”. Luckily, this is a well directed film that may not be definite perfection, but it’s none the less a sweet, never overly-sentimental tale of friendship. By now, I bet you’re asking, “But don’t we get enough of these friendship films anyways?” Why yes, in fact we do. But a new GOOD one is always welcome. I mean, who doesn’t love good films, right? I guess it’s safe to say that “About a Boy” is worth seeing since it has undeniable charm. It’s not just Hugh Grant’s performance, but the whole film itself seems uncommonly appealing. It’s better than most dramedy out there, and I guess that’s good enough for me. Performances and lack of sentimentality aside, this is just a feel-good film all the way. It’s not a terribly new filmic experience…but then again, what is? The charm and the heart of this film together are nearly impeccable in likability. To anyone who just wants to feel good while watching a movie, this is a promising and mostly fulfilling ticket. I kid you not; it was a pleasure to watch. Perhaps it isn’t worth thinking too much, but as a drama, it’s not supposed to be something that it’s not. Therefore, it is simple and pleasant. Just the way I like it when I see a film like this. And…no offensive humor! Woo! Will Freeman is your typical do-nothing guy who as his position states does nothing. He’s rich, but only because of his father’s “one hit wonder” Christmas song. He feeds off single parents for the feeling of “romance”, although he doesn’t quite get it. We are then introduced by an equally as unhappy young lad named Marcus, who is unpopular and frequently bullied at his school. To top it all off, his mother is deeply and secretively suicidal. Long story short, he’s no happy camper in this mad, mad world. So as these stories tend to go, these two individuals meet up somehow and begin to form a strong friendship. Each one helps the other with their troubles, although this time it’s a bit different considering that one is a full grown man and the other is…well let’s face it, a good deal younger. For most of the film, its just these two eccentric loners helping each-other communicate with others and going through not-so-random struggles in between. It’s really entertaining, considering the fact that this is all and all, not the most revolutionary of dramas. It’s no modern game changer, but it makes me think that both comedy and drama can make for a good film in the end. The execution for the film is pretty good until the end, which I found to be sort of disappointing. It’s a happy ending all the way, although not too much of one to hurt the film a whole lot. It’s just unsatisfying, but otherwise this is a charming and slightly intelligent re-telling of a familiar story. Inhale it, and in about 2.3 months, exhale. And we all know what I mean by that. Despite being subjected to all too much horseshite in his career of acting, “About a Boy” makes me think that there’s still some decent hope for Hugh Grant as an actor. He’s an endearing and just plain charming man who seems talented, although it’s nearly been proved that he isn’t. “About a Boy” is a film which takes Hugh Grant and puts him to the test. The result is one of the actor’s best films to date. Grant makes use of his charm and wins the audience almost automatically. Luckily, the guy’s not too sentimental and/or relatable, since he’s not really meant to be. He’s not too pleasant, but nor is he particularly unpleasant. Grant’s character simply isn’t the sort of guy you should be rooting for, but yet you find yourself doing it anyways. Grant is simply endearing and is nearly perfect here. Nicholas Hoult also puts his new-found charm to good use in his acting debut, which is a damn good one on all accounts. He doesn’t quite live up to his partner in greatness, Hugh Grant, but the kid has a promising future ahead of him (if he chooses to stick with acting, which he sort of has). Toni Collette is as good as ever, playing her potential dream character, a suicidal mother who reminds me the slightest bit of Natalie Portman’s nearly bald state in the final third of “V for Vendetta”. Why the hell does it remind me of her? You’ve got a pretty energetic supporting cast including Rachel Weisz, Natalia Tena, and Sharon Small to back up all the talent on display here. I have to thank “About a Boy” for many things. First off, I’m glad that it’s a funny film as well as a slightly (and only slightly) heartfelt one. The humor never offends and manages to be pretty darn clever most of the time. The drama is also pretty decent, considering that 1. I usually don’t like drama at all and 2. It never descends into sappy territories. This could have been a very cheesy film, but considering the talent in front of and behind the camera, it hits a bit harder than it should. The film is fairly mainstream, and therefore doesn’t really have much of a style to it. The visuals are nothing too amazing, although the picture is more than fair for a 2002 film. There’s also a pretty balanced soundtrack, which includes (you guessed it) a song which says the words “about a boy”. The soundtrack is “entirely original”, and pretty damn good too. The film mostly relies on charm to get the job done. In the end of the film, I had to smile. It was such a feel-good film, even with the almost too feel-good ending. It made me, quite literally, feel good. Or at least better. None the less, this film has Hugh Grant, drama, humor, and good music. What more could you want out of a winning dramedy? “About a Boy” is easy to recommend, considering the fact that if you’re looking for a good dramedy, chances are you’ve already seen everything (good) that cinema has to offer. Shut out all the bad dramedies and simply watch films like this. You will not regret it. This is not the perfect film that some have said it is, but it’s a blast to watch. It is smartly adapted from the novel of the same boy, and the screen-play is clever enough to mix well with the charming nature of its stars. Don’t get me wrong, this film isn’t anything special, but it’s heartfelt and good-natured. And as far as I’m concerned, all that counts for something these days. Good filmmaking ALWAYS counts for something, even if it isn’t EXCELLENT filmmaking. I’m not complaining because honestly, what the hell can I truly complain about when watching this film? It has a clichéd story. That may put a semi-decent dent in this film, but it’s not a bit enough one to ruin the experience. This is not a forgettable film, and it feels good to simply watch it. There’s heart put in it for sure. So tell me, how can a director who made a movie so good make something as bad as “Twilight: New Moon”? It beats me, but maybe the easiest explanation is that it simply happens to most people. And in this case, it happened to the Weitz brothers. Do I really care, all around? No, not really. At least the Weitz brothers have something to remember rather than have nothing at all. This is the closest thing they may ever get to a labor of love. Thank god for that.
    Ryan M Super Reviewer

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