A funny thing happened on the way to New York: I actually saw a decent movie on an airplane while sitting in coach. No, it was not the Hugh Grant warm/fuzzy fest About A Boy. It was Bogdanovich’s vastly underrated The Cat’s Meow. However, Victoria already reviewed it. Sufficeth to say, Eddie Izzard rules. About A Boy on the other hand, doesn’t. It wasn’t a bad movie, but I have such a problem with the central premise that I couldn’t sit through it again. No.

A couple of points of contention before I begin my dissection proper; Hugh Grant has got to be the most one-dimensional actor since Woody Allen first fidgeted on screen. While Allen has enough talent to continually portray the same horny nebbish decade after decade, Grant doesn’t. Arnold Schwartzenegger has more range. I was convinced that the people behind About A Boy were the same team that brought us the enjoyable Notting Hill. No. The dudes behind Boy brought us American Pie. Hugh Grant is so flat and predictable with his smug, non-threatening, womanizing British self that I wrongly jumped to that conclusion. Hugh, the jig is up buddy. Play a serial killer or something. It worked for Robin Williams.


My other point is quick and small: I hate stories about kids. Kids are boring. I spent my entire childhood wishing I was grown up. Now that I am, I love it. They never put ugly kids in movies, just ones that are so cute I sit around feeling bad about how fucked they are going to be when they turn forty and still look the same. Kids are dumb and have nothing interesting to talk about. British children are even (somehow) more boring than American children. Probably because their culture is so second rate. Seriously though, if it ain’t The 400 Blows, I don’t want to watch it.

Here’s what kills me about About A Boy. Hugh Grant’s character, Will, does nothing. He’s independently wealthy, has never worked, has no beliefs or ideals. He stands for nothing, and as the writers keep telling us for the better part of the movie, he is nothing. I say fine. What’s wrong with that? Why do people have to be anything? Why can’t they just be? Of course, if you haven’t already guessed, Will gets meaning into his life by being a father and getting (yawn) married. In my mind, it would have been a much more interesting flick if we would have been introduced to a character who believes in nothing, is given the opportunity for love, co-habitation, family and meaning, but in the end chooses to live out his empty, shallow existence. I suspect that Nick Hornby, the bloke who wrote Boy and the very decent High Fidelity had some real issues in his life after the success of his first couple books. So much so that instead of just sitting around and enjoying, even relishing the fact that he was a 38 year old who never had to do another thing in his life except for kick back and watch the royalty checks role in, he went and penned About A Boy as a justification of his over-privileged lot in life. Too bad.


During the course of the movie, Grant’s Will realizes that single mothers are really easy to get into bed. So easy that he starts attending a self-help group for single parents. He pretends that he has an ex-wife and a two-year-old named Ned. A bunch of crap happens and Will winds up befriending 12-year-old Marcus (Hoult). Marcus is a weirdo and his mother, whom Will brilliantly calls, “Granola Suicide,” is much worse. She is the British equivalent of a hippie and tries to kill herself. This makes the weird Marcus even weirder. Much to his chagrin, Will befriends the space cadet and tries to make him cool by buying him “fresh” shoes and a Mystikal CD. This backfires and Will gives up, especially after another single Mom he is dating basically dumps Will for telling the truth. Of course, at the very end Will makes Marcus popular, marries the hotter-than-fuck Rachel Weisz and even manages to set-up Marcus’s Mum with a hippie friend of his… Back to Weisz for a second. I’ve slept with my share of single (and some not so single) moms. They don’t look anything like her.Like I said earlier, About A Boy is not a bad movie. The writing is good, some of the scenes are brilliant, (Like when Marcus’s Mom accuses Will of molesting Marcus at a very posh restaurant in front of loads of people – including Will’s sister!) and the acting is pretty above board. However the ending is so predictable, so typical, so banal, that I have no choice but to get the word about this preachy, moralistic, political tract that thinly veils its real message behind some wanton, yet obviously hollow behavior. The filmmakers are trying to tell us that no matter how great your life is, without children and spouses it’s meaningless. Bollocks.

Ruthless Ratings

  • Overall: 5
  • Direction: 6
  • Acting: 7
  • Story: 3
  • Re-watchability: Can’t do it

Special Ruthless Ratings

  • Number of times you wished you were Will: 78
  • Number of times you realized that even if your life were like Will’s, you wouldn’t get laid even one fifth as much because next to Hugh Grant you look like Danny De Vito: 34
  • Number of times you smiled when you thought about how Devine Brown, the hooker that Grant got nailed with in Beverly Hills, said that Hugh’s penis was smaller than her finger: 34
  • Number of times you felt you would have given up your blissful state of Nihilistic non-existence to marry Rachel Weisz: 24
  • Number of times you would do so if she were 10 years younger: 60
  • Number of times you wished that the movie wasn’t about a boy: 32

Straightening Jonny’s facts

Mr B. gets money from UNICEF

Firstly Hugh Grant isn’t a one trick pony, he’s a none trick pony. If you’ve ever seen him interviewed you’ll know that he’s just playing himself but can’t remember the fucking script hence the constant faltering. If you’re in any doubt, watch the first 5 minutes (this will be enough) of Extreme Measures and you will see Grant failing miserably at trying to pull off a serious role. I suggest you wait till it comes to TV so you don’t waste your money.

Secondly only the south of Britain is a second-class country. The north of England is a third world country. If you’re in any doubt then check this out. Last Xmas I was at some friends house in fancy London and they’ve got a Jacuzzi. For the same price as the Jacuzzi (about 16000/$21500 as it’s a big fuck off outdoor one) you can buy two, yes two semi-detached houses in one of the rough estates in my hometown back up north. Fact.

Thirdly only the more affluent southern kids are boring. Round here kids as young as 8 will steal your car, gang rape you, stab you or burn your house down. The only thing I’ve got to say to you yanks is Macaulay Culkin.

Fourthly at least we’ve got some culture all be it second rate. I remember the opening ceremony of the World Cup in the US and every nation taking part in the ceremony did a little presentation of some aspect of their culture. The Irish got their fiddles out and did some Irish dancing, etc etc you get the picture. Now what did we get from the host’s, the good old US of A? Michael fucking Bolton that’s what!!! Snuff said!

Fifthly, Badly Drawn Boy, the guy responsible for the music is British and (as you lot say) sucks major ass, so no change there then! So if you ever see anyone wearing a stupid tea-cosy hat then smack them round the head with a baseball bat. Don’t worry cos if it’s not Badly Drawn Boy you’ll have got Jamiroquai or the Edge instead.

About Jonny Lieberman

Jonny was the site’s co-founder and helped carry the place in the early years. There was a falling out with Erich and he left the site for good, but a lot of his reviews live on. He has moved on to a successful career writing about cars. Look him up.