In this instance, I saw the movie first and when this happens, I always tend to enjoy reading the book afterwards. The movie was released in 2002 with Hugh Grant and Nickolas Hoult being given the leading roles. It was written by Peter Hedges, Chris Weitz and Paul Weitz. The latter duo directed the whole thing as well.
The story is quitenteresting. Hugh Grant plays a thirty six year old man named Will Freeman, who has never worked a single day in his life. This is thanks to the royalties from a Christmas song that his father wrote, while he spends his day lounging around, listening to music and enjoying meaningless romances. On the other hand, there is a boy, Marcus Brewer, portrayed by Nickolas Hoult. A 12-year old kid who is tragically faced with a suicidal mother, played brilliantly by Toni Collette, and a bunch of school boys that insist on giving him a really hard time. Marcus’ mother embraces a lifestyle that doesn’t quite fit with her responsibilities towards Marcus, being the reason for a significant number of the boy’s problems. Man and Boy meet and somehow fill a gap in each other’s lives – making a peculiarly complimentary couple. Set in London, the necessary trends of the era flood the movie with a certain atmosphere and characteristically English feel. “About a boy” is an enjoyable movie that hauls the viewer into a whole ocean of emotions, from laughter, to sorrow, to a strange sense of nostalgia.
With the above in my mind I started reading the book, written by Nick Hornby and published in 1998. As I expected, it was a really good one. It has it all: a good plot, interesting characters and a great sense of humour. I found myself laughing out loud several times through each chapter while right from the start I realised that Hugh Grant had never been better. Naturally, many things were omitted or alternated for several justifiable reasons. The movie is true to its date of release (2002), while the book refers to 1993 – an entirely different decade. Overall it strikes one as a “faithful” adaptation. Until I reached a point where nothing seemed familiar – actually, it was all new. The last one hundred pages take you away from the movie, and into an entirely different realm.
So there you have it, a movie that was inspired by a book. I found myself enjoying the book and the film equally, in slightly different ways.