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About a Boy

Film poster
Directed by Chris Weitz and
Paul Weitz
Produced by Jane Rosenthal
Robert De Niro
Brad Epstein
Tim Bevan
Eric Fellner
Written by Novel
Nick Hornby
Peter Hedges
Chris Weitz
Paul Weitz
Starring Hugh Grant
Nicholas Hoult
Toni Collette
Rachel Weisz
Music by Badly Drawn Boy
Cinematography Remi Adefarasin
Editing by Nick Moore
Studio StudioCanal
TriBeCa Productions
Working Title Films
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date(s) April 26, 2002
Running time 105 minutes
Country United Kingdom
United States
Language English
Budget £20,000,000
Gross revenue US$130,549,455

About a Boy is a 2002 film directed by brothers Chris Weitz and Paul Weitz, and based on the book of the same name by Nick Hornby. The film stars Golden Globe winner Hugh Grant as Will, Nicholas Hoult as Marcus, Academy Award nominee Toni Collette as Fiona, and Academy Award winner Rachel Weisz as Rachel. The film at times uses double voice-over narration, where the audience hear both Will's and Marcus's thoughts.

It was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Adapted Screenplay.



Will Freeman (Hugh Grant) is a 38-year-old bachelor who prides himself on being "cool". Thanks to royalties from a successful Christmas song that his father composed, Will does not need to work to maintain his leisurely lifestyle. He spends most of his free time smoking, watching television and reading about pop culture.[1]

The story begins when Will's friends Christine (Sharon Small) and John (Nicholas Hutchinson) give birth to their second child; when asked if he would be the child's godfather, Will bluntly refuses, insisting that he "really is that shallow". In an attempt to avoid spending time with Christine and John, he meets Angie (Isabel Brook), a single mother. After sharing a brief relationship with her, Will comes up with the idea of attending a single-parents group (SPAT - Single Parents Alone Together) to meet potential female partners. As part of his ploy, he invents a two-year-old son named Ned.

At one of the single parents group meetings, Will meets Suzie (Victoria Smurfit) and attempts to court her. His pursuit of the single mother takes him to one of the group functions—a picnic—where he meets Marcus (Nicholas Hoult), the son of one Suzie's friends. Marcus is a 12-year-old, introverted, eccentric boy with a depressed, suicidal hippie mother, Fiona (Toni Collette). At the picnic, Marcus accidentally kills a duck with a stale loaf of bread while trying to feed it, and when a park keeper questions him about it, Will tries to pass it off (the duck) as already dead whilst trying to sink the body so as to not upset the children. When Suzie and Will return him back home, they find Fiona in the living room, overdosed on pills.

After this incident, Marcus begins to be uncomfortable with staying at home, due to his mother's condition. He follows Will and deduces that he is both single and childless -- the complete opposite of how he presented himself. He appears on Will's doorstep, trying to blackmail threaten Will into dating his mother, in hopes that Fiona will no longer be depressed if she has a boyfriend. This doesn't work, so Marcus just hangs out at Will's apartment after school, much to Will's initial dismay.

After many afternoons of an apathetic limbo, Marcus is chased to Will's apartment by bullies, and Will begins to realize the importance of his presence in Marcus's life. He starts helping Marcus to fit into the modern adolescent world by taking him shopping to buy shoes. Unfortunately, bullies steal these shoes only a few days later, causing a fight between Marcus, Fiona, and Will.

At school, Marcus becomes friends with a grunge girl named Ellie (Natalia Tena) and develops a crush on her. Will also develops a crush, on a single mother named Rachel (Rachel Weisz). Will pretends Marcus is his son in order to appear interesting to Rachel. At this point Marcus asks Will for clarification of the difference between a girl that's a friend, and a girlfriend. Will replies that it is all to do with sex. Marcus ponders this and decides that if he is able to be with Ellie often and tell her things, he doesn't care about the idea of sex. Will initially scoffs at this, but later remarks to himself "Yes, I wanted to touch Rachel. But at this moment, if I had the choice...I'd settle for the less and the more that Marcus wanted."

Eventually Will reveals to Rachel that Marcus is not really his son, and the relationship ends. Marcus comes home from school one day to see his mother sitting on the couch crying. He attempts to unburden himself to Will, who is unreceptive as he is still upset about the breakup with Rachel. Will tells Marcus that he can't help him and the two have a fight. Marcus decides that the only way to help his mother is to sing at the school variety show - an act which Ellie deems "suicide". Will continues his superficial existence but realises that it doesn't fulfill him the way it did before. He remarks "...there was only one thing that meant something to me: Marcus. He was the only thing that meant something to me. And Fiona was the only thing that meant something to him. And she was about to fall off the edge." Will crashes a SPAT meeting and implores Fiona not to attempt suicide again. She assures him that she has no plans to do so in the immediate future. Fiona reveals that Marcus is going to sing at the school show and the two rush there to stop Marcus from committing social suicide. At the show, Will sees Rachel in the audience as her son is performing in the show. Will makes his way backstage in an attempt to stop Marcus from singing. Marcus is unswayed and says "My mum wants me to sing it. It'll make her happy." He then proceeds to sing a shrill, out-of-tune rendition of "Killing Me Softly". The audience's children taunt him until Will comes onstage with guitar to accompany Marcus for the rest of the song. With Will's assistance, the school children accept Marcus' performance, giving him mild applause at the end. Seeing this, Will continues to perform an unnecessary solo, with the intent that the school children would remember the performance only for his involvement, and not Marcus'.

The film ends at Christmas the next year. The festivities are at Will's place where Marcus, Rachel, Rachel's son Ali, Fiona and Ellie are present. "Every man is an island," Will remarks, an idea that he had adhered to religiously at the beginning of the film. "But clearly, some men are part of island chains. Below the surface of the ocean they're actually connected." The idea of Will marrying Rachel is brought up, and Marcus seems unenthusiastic. The film ends with Marcus's explanation of his reaction: "I don't know what Will was so upset about. All I meant was I don't think couples are the future. You need more than that. You need backup. The way I saw it, Will and I both had backup now. It's like that thing he told me Jon Bon Jovi said: 'No man is an island.'"



About a Boy was acclaimed by critics. It has a score of 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, with an average rating of 7.7/10. It received two thumbs up from Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper.


The soundtrack, also titled About a Boy was released in 2002. It was composed by singer/songwriter Badly Drawn Boy.


  1. ^ On the contrary, in the opening scene, Will's coffee table supports a thick copy of The Penguin Guide to Classical Music.

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

About a Boy is a 2002 film about a cynical, immature young man who is taught how to act like a grown-up by a little boy.

Directed by Chris Weitz and Paul Weitz. Written by Nick Hornby (novel) and Peter Hedges (screenplay).
Growing up has nothing to do with age.



  • He fancies you. He told me.
  • You don't give a shit about anyone and no one gives a shit about you!
  • I think I killed a duck!
  • I wanna be with her more, I wanna be with her all the time, and I wanna tell her things I don't even tell you or mum. And I don't want her to have another boyfriend. I suppose if I could have all those things, I wouldn't really mind if I touched her or not.
  • Suddenly I realized - two people isn't enough. You need backup. If there are only two people, and someone drops off the edge, then you're on your own. Two isn't a large enough number. You need three at least.
  • [Thinking] I used to think two was not enough. But now things are great; there are loads of people... I don't know what Will was so pissed off about. I don't think couples are the future. The way I see it now, we both got back-up now. It's like that thing Jon Bon Jovi said: 'No man is an island.'


  • The thing is, a person's life is like a TV show. I was the star of The Will Show. And The Will Show wasn't an ensemble drama. Guests came and went, but I was the regular. It came down to me and me alone. If Marcus' mum couldn't manage her own show, if her ratings were falling, it was sad, but that was her problem. Ultimately, the whole single mum plotline was a bit complicated for me.
  • This crying in the morning thing, this depression, let's get that fixed.
  • I was in some strange territory. Was I frightened? I was petrified.
  • In my opinion, all men are islands. And what's more, now's the time to be one. This is an island age.
  • I am an island. I am bloody Ibiza!
  • I'd be the worst possible Godfather. I'd probably drop her on her head at her christening. I'd forget all her birthdays until she was 18. Then I'd take her out and get her drunk. And, let's face it, quite possibly try and shag her.
  • Once you open your door to one person anyone can come in.
  • I find the key is to think of a day as units of time, each unit consisting of no more than thirty minutes. Full hours can be a little bit intimidating and most activities take about half an hour. Taking a bath: one unit, watching countdown: one unit, web-based research: two units, exercising: three units, having my hair carefully dishevelled: four units. It's amazing how the day fills up, and I often wonder, to be absolutely honest, if I'd ever have time for a job; how do people cram them in?
  • It was terrible! Terrible! But driving really fast behind the ambulance was fantastic!
  • Me, I didn't mean anything. About anything, to anyone. And I knew that guaranteed me a long, depression-free life.
  • [In the supermarket, his father's song begins to play] Oh no! November the sodding 19th... Six weeks before bloody Christmas and they were already playing that song.
  • [Singing "Killing me Softly"] And there I was killing them softly with my song. Or rather being killed. And not so softly either.
  • My life is made up of units of time. Buying CDs - two units. Eating lunch - three units. Exercising - two units. All in all, I had a very full life. It's just that it didn't mean anything.
  • [voiceover] She couldn't stay at my place, and she didn't have a DVD, or satellite, or cable, so we were always stuck watching some crap made for t.v. movie about a kid with leukemia. I had to end it.
  • [voiceover] Having been Will the Good Guy, I didn't relish going back to my usual role of Will the Unreliable, Emotionally Stunted Arsehole.
  • [Regarding the first SPAT meeting] I'll tell you one thing. Men are bastards. After about ten minutes I wanted to cut my own penis off with a kitchen knife.
  • [Thinking] Every man is an island. I stand by that. But clearly some men are island CHAINS. Underneath, they are connected...
  • [To himself] No, Marcus, I do not want to come over for Christmas. I do not want to spend Christmas with Ms. Granola Suicide and her spawn.


Lindsey's Mum: 'Shake your Ass'... is he Moroccan?
Fiona: You selfish bastard!
Fiona: When you sing it brings sunshine and happiness into my heart
Lindsey's Mum: Are we having duck? Delicious!
Ellie: What did you just say to me?.- You heard me, squitty little shitty snot-nosed bastard!


Marcus: Oh, don't worry, I think your mum is keen on him.
Ali: [Shouting] She's not keen on him! She's only keen on me!

Christine: You will end up childless and alone.
Will: Well, fingers crossed, yeah.

Will: I want to go out with her, OK. I'd like her to be my girlfriend, here I said it.
Marcus: How brilliant!

[Fiona is crying]
Fiona: Will, am I a bad mother?
Will: No. No, you're not a bad mother. You're just a barking lunatic.

[Fiona is crying]
Fiona: I mean, he's a special - very, very special boy and he's got a special soul, and I've wounded it.
Will: Oh, please, just shut up. You're wounding my soul.

Christine: Oh, no... it's just I thought you had hidden depths.
Will: No, no, you've always had that wrong about me. I really am this shallow.

Fiona: He's expressing himself!
Will: No, he's not! He's expressing YOU!

Ellie: You like rap?
Marcus: A little. It's by black people mostly. And they're pretty angry most of the time. But sometimes they just want to have sex.

Marcus: I got the letter. Thanks.
Fiona: Oh my God. I'd forgotten.
Marcus: You forgot? You forgot a suicide letter?
Fiona: Well I didn't think I'd have to remember it, did I? Did you read the part where I said I'd always love you?
Marcus: It's a bit hard for you to love me when you're dead, isn't it?
Fiona: I can understand why you're angry, Marcus. But I don't feel the same as I did yesterday, if it's any help.
Marcus: What? It's all gone away? All that?
Fiona: No, but, for the moment, I feel better.
Marcus: The moment's no good for me. I can see you feel better at the moment. You just put the kettle on. What happens when you finish your tea? What happens when I go back to school? I can't be here to watch you all the time!

Marcus: I'll come if you take my mom, too. She hasn't got any money, so either we'll have to go somewhere cheap, or you'll have to treat us.
Will: Well, listen, don't beat about the bush, Marcus.
Marcus: Why should I? We're poor, you're rich, you pay. You can bring your little boy if you like. I don't mind.
Will: That's really big of you.

Will: It's a CD, Marcus, by Mystikal. They're cool. You'll like them
Fiona: What kind of music is Mystikal?
Will: It's sort of, um, world music . . .
Marcus: [reads a song title] "Shake Ya Ass."
Will: ...Slash rap-type thing.

Marcus: I used to want Will to marry my mom.
Ali: You serious?
Marcus: Yeah, but that was when she was depressed and I was desperate.
Will: Thanks, mate.

Rachel: Ali has trouble meeting new people. You see, the last guy I went out with, well, he wasn't all good news.
Ali: [Loudly] He was a liar!
Rachel: All right, Ali.

Ali: If your dad goes out with my mum, you're gonna be dead, really dead.
Marcus: I don't think it's really up to me, now is it?
Ali: Well it better be... or you're gonna die.


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