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About a Boy

I thought Nick Hornby was a really cutting edge author in Britain, like Irvine Welsh. Although his material is more soulful, High Fidelity had plenty of X generation appeal. If he really was that cool, he sold out big time with this Hollywood tripe.

Set in London but with its hand on a blazingly American heart, two lives cross unexpectedly, a confirmed bad-boy bachelor (Grant, trying for more character kudos after Bridget Jones' Diary) and a nerdy, 12 year old outcast Marcus (Hoult). The two become friends in a strange but neat way, and the central theme is about how each touch the others' life - the kid by making the grown up realise that no man is an island, the grown up making the kid believe he's worth loving. The whole thing piles on the saccharine in shovelfuls, and by the time Marcus is alone on the stage singing in the school concert and Will (Grant) comes out with a guitar to accompany him, you want to be sick.

Despite the mood, there are some excellent performances, particularly by Marcus' suicidal mother (Collette) and settings, but they're served in careful spoonfuls far too much to really challenge you. It also takes a very common snooty high ground by making a man who doesn't want a relationship or children seem pathetic and scornful. Just once I'd like to see a movie about a man vindicated for not wanting to live the cultural middle class obligation of a miserable marriage and a band of snot faced brats.

The Weitz brothers may have left the gross out comedy of American Pie behind them, but they still serve up wholesome American Sugar.

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