About A Boy

About A Boy

DVD Rating: ****

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Read Angus Wolfe Murray's film review of About A Boy

This is a terrific looking DVD; exquisite, in its way.

Paul and Chris Weitz's claim to fame is that they directed American Pie, which, in many people's minds, means that they have a lavatory for a brain. This is far from the case. In the Making Of documentary, Hugh Grant makes a joke about them reading books on the set, implying that he was surprised that they could read. Naturally, they are charming, erudite and witty.

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Making Of... is an informative, entertaining chat with the directors, writer Nick Hornby and Grant. Certain things are revealed, in addition to the Weitz brothers' under-the-bushel intellect. Grant does not like children and they don't like him. He praises the directors thoughtfulness in this matter. "They took great trouble to find a kid that wouldn't annoy me."

Chris Weitz remarks that Hugh is nothing like the character he played in Four Weddings And A Funeral. He improvises a lot to keep things fresh and "genuinely still loves acting, although he'll hate me saying that." Talking about the film, Grant says, "It's really quite moving and I haven't done moving." He seems honest, although plays up to the camera a little; he knows when he's making a funny remark. "I'm a tart for a laugh," he says. "Toni Collette is too." You want to see more of her and Rachel.

The directors' commentary is surprisingly short on anectdotes, while being fascinating about the decisions that have to be taken. The Brothers Weitz are not afraid of nudging tradition into touch and trying something new - "to move things along." Their only fear, it seems, is to be boring.

They take liberties with the book, occasionally. For example: "We moved this scene to the zoo, so we could have monkeys. Also, it was good to get outside." Why monkeys? They like them. Why outside? It was getting stuffy in the studio.

There is an emotional moment when Marcus, the boy, has to cry and the directors told Nicholas, the actor, to think of something sad that had happened to him in his life. Tears flow beautifully. Afterwards, Nicholas says, "Do you know what I thought about when I was crying?" They shakes their heads. " I thought about nothing."

Deleted Scenes with commentary is full of cries from the Weitz brothers: "I'm falling asleep watching it now" and "Not amusing enough." They don't give reasons why the scenes were taken out, although occasionally admit to regrets, because of losing an actor's performance, or something. Always, the criterion is "to move along", to keep the flow, to avoid blockage. "I think the Coen brothers were right when they did the Director's Cut on Blood Simple; it was shorter than the original."

Badly Drawn Boy's two music videos are highly amusing and quite original. The interview with the man who is Badly Drawn Boy is less illuminating.

It must be said that this is one of best DVDs around. For once, the extras mean what they say.

Reviewed on: 22 Dec 2002
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About A Boy packshot
Hugh Grant, who hates kids and loves their mums, becomes friends with an odd 12-year-old boy.
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Product Code: 9038399

Region: 2

Ratio: 2.35 Anamorphic

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1

Extras: Commentary with Paul and Chris Weitz; Making Of...; Deleted Scenes with directors


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