ABOUT A BOY

Directors:  Chris Weitz and Paul Weitz

Starring:  Hugh Grant, Nicholas Hoult, Toni Collette

A young boy and his single-parent mother redeem a self-centered bachelor.

About a Boy is about a young man, Will (Hugh Grant) who invents a son in order to attend a single parent support group (where he hopes to meet hot, desperate babes). It's a charming relationship- based drama with comic overtones (not as broad as Bridget Jones's Diary, the film's sibling, more like Four Weddings and a Funeral). Will's quest leads to an encounter with a young boy (Hoult), who is being mollycoddled by his clinically depressed mother (Toni Collette), the sort of woman who probably dyes wool with nettles. The film, based on the popular novel by Nick Hornby, walks a fine line between pathos and comedy, but is commendably unsentimental, and genuinely warm.

Universal UK's disc presents the film in 2.35:1 ratio, with anamorphic enhancement. Its shot with a naturalistic style, presenting a few challenges for the telecine and coding teams. Outdoor scenes are bright and sharp, but interiors can occasionally be a little murky. The picture has some noticeable edge-enhancement, although to its credit fleshtones are natural, and colours, although generally intentionally muted, are often vibrant. The average bitrate is 6.55Mbps. The 5.1 audio mix (at 384kbps) is unsurprisingly uneventful, only coming to life when the film's music kicks in. 

The disc comes with a good selection of bonus materials, including a commentary track by directors Chris and Paul Weitz (the brothers behind American Pie, but don't let that put you off), who impart plenty of trivia and information about the movie, revealing, for example, why Roberta Flack's Killing Me Softly was chosen as the song that features so prominently in the film. They also identify many of the film's locations, (which will no doubt delight and dismay the residents of Clarkenwell in equal measure!) There's a Spotlight on Location - The Making of About A Boy featurette, which crams a lot into just under eleven minutes. A quarter of a hour's worth of deleted or extended scenes, which can be played with or without commentary, are presented in 2.35:1 letterboxed format (without enhancement). Most are uninvolving (the directors frequently apologise for making viewers suffer them, on the commentary track), and only one, a erstwhile "alternative ending", is of any real significance. One of the deleted scenes has been cut by a second by the BBFC, for "strong language" - leaving it intact would have bumped the certificate up to a 15.

The disc also contains the a curiously skewed "Yours to own on Video and DVD" advert for the film (masquerading as an "International Theatrical Trailer") which plays up Rachel Weisz's involvement in the film (she doesn't appear for almost an hour, in little more than a supporting role), but doesn't contain a single shot of the considerably less photogenic Toni Collette (who did feature more prominently in the film's theatrical trailer, which isn't included). Also offered are a mercifully brief teaser for Rowan Atkinson's spy spoof Johnny English and a DVD trailer for The Guru

The film's music was provided by Damon Gough (a.k.a. Badly Drawn Boy), who was rewarded by a best-selling soundtrack CD. The DVD contains two Badly Drawn Boy music videos for songs featured in the film: Silent Sigh (a sort of science-fiction sequel to a minor incident in the film) and Something to Talk About (which continues the duck-related theme). The disc also offers a twenty minute MTV interview with Gough, which contains clips from some of his other videos, but only mentions About a Boy in passing. This interview seems to be absent from the R1 disc, according to currently-available information, but this is offset against a few superficial-sounding bonus features (a "How Cool Are You" quiz, an "English to English dictionary", production notes, filmographies and a stills gallery) which aren't on the UK version. Both discs feature DVD- Rom bonus materials, linked to the Universal Studios Home Video website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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