So much of his success lies with his ability to pick roles tailor made for him, such as in 4 WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL. He's an intelligent leading man with impeccable comedic delivery. When the material written for him is good, he is GREAT. When it's mediocre, he's only OK to watch.
ABOUT A BOY is the best script he's had to date (well, maybe 4 WEDDINGS is...hard to say). He plays a rich, single lout who lives only to indulge himself and score with women. He truly only thinks of his own pleasures...most of which are remarkably humdrum. He's not a creep or pervert or hedonist, really, he's just monumentally self-indulgent. He didn't even earn his fortune, he inherited it.
One day, he gets the bright idea of meeting women by joining a single-parent's support group. He'll just pretend to be a single father, and all the single women who will greatly outnumber him will fall all over themselves over him. AND HE'S RIGHT!!!
But this is just where the movie gets started. Through a series of events involving trying to keep his secret just that, he ends up being stuck with a teenaged boy who is awkward and fatherless and extremely nerdy who also takes a liking for Grant and starts showing up at his apartment door every afternoon to watch TV. Grant can't get rid of him...it's a kind of mild blackmail situation. But slowly, slowly, slowly, the two begin to bond. Grant, through sheer annoyance, begins to bully the kid into being less of a schlep. And this tiny kernel of interest in another human being slowly begins to gnaw away at Grant's insular world. He's upset by the changes he sees in himself, but he also becomes enchanted with the unique feeling of actually making an impression on others.
The movie is very funny and has lots of near farcical situations. The laughs are never cheap, though, and most of the humor is character driven. It's not an action packed film, but I laughed outloud at LOTS of it...Grant's delivery has never been better. But it was also moving, but in a very non-Hollywood, tear-jerking way. The viewer is nearly as startled as Grant's character to see that we've grown to really care about the main characters.
This is a terrific, moving comedy. Every character is fully realized, even if only on screen for a scene or two. It's beautifully filmed in London and there's not one moment where you feel you're watching an American movie. It feels British through and through (how weird for a film directed and produced by the brothers who brought us AMERICAN PIE...another movie that had surprising touches of drama that actually worked). It's a sophisticated movie, sure to be hated by most kids...not that kids ever go to Hugh Grant movies anyway. But for intelligent adults looking for a great two hours, with a story unlike any seen before, CHECK IT OUT!! Highly, highly recommended.
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