A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The shallowness of materialism is shown, as is the emptiness of short-term relationships centered exclusively on sexual gratification; traits like thoughtfulness and consideration are shown to be much more desirable and important. Marcus has the conviction to be a vegetarian, and is willing to sing a song in front of his entire school that he knows will isolate him even further and expose him to ridicule because he believes it will make his mother (who is suffering from depression) happy.
Positive Role Models
Main character starts out rather selfish, but ends up caring a great deal about Marcus. He's also caught in a lie and comes clean, even though it hurts his chances with a love interest. Bullies at school pick on Marcus because he's different and Marcus handles it with maturity. Characters demonstrate humility and empathy.
Violence & Scariness
Suicide attempt by one character who swallows pills, is shown passed out on a couch. Marcus is harassed/bullied by boys at school-- they kick a soccer ball that hits him in the head, chase him down the street, throw candy at his head. Lead character hit in head with an apple.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Sexual references -- main character starts as a cad. Mild sex talk between teenagers.
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"F--k." "F--king hell." "S--t." Kids say "s--t," "piss off," "crap" British slang like "bollocks." Molestation insinuations.
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Products & Purchases
Will cares a lot about fancy products/brands. He purchases a pair of Sketchers shoes for Marcus in the hopes of making him fit in with his classmates. Talk between a mom and son about going to McDonald's to eat a Big Mac.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Main character's father is shown as an alcoholic, but only in a brief flashback. Beer and wine drinking at holidays or at dinner. Cigarette smoking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that About a Boy is a 2002 movie based on a novel by Nick Hornby in which Hugh Grant plays a self-centered playboy who starts to become a better person after meeting a misfit 14-year-old with a depressed and suicidal mother. There's some strong language (including two uses of "f--k"), including profanity used by teenagers. Some sexual references (Will is an unabashed love-'em-and-leave-'em guy). A parent is clinically depressed and attempts suicide, and her child feels responsible. Another child becomes hysterical about the prospect of his mother dating. Marcus' mother fears that Will has an improper interest in Marcus. There are some brief molestation insinuations. Characters drink and smoke. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
The plot may sound like manipulative claptrap from a made-for-TV movie, but the theme has so much appeal that even a lousy script and poor production values can't completely destroy it. But when it's done well -- or even very, very well, as it is here -- it turns into a purely satisfying and enjoyable film.
We know from Bridget Jones's Diary and even Small Time Crooks that Hugh Grant relishes playing a cad. Freed from the obligation to be the perfect boyfriend of Notting Hill-type movies, he gives us a superb performance of great honesty and subtlety and flawless comedy timing. There is a lot in About a Boy for teens and parents to enjoy and discuss.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.