About a Boy [2002]

A box-office smash in England, About a Boy went on to charm the world as another fine adaptation (following High Fidelity) of a popular Nick Hornby novel. While High Fidelity transplanted its London charm to Chicago, this irresistible comedy was directed by Americans Chris and Paul Weitz (American Pie) with its British pedigree intact. Better yet, Hugh Grant is perfectly cast as Will, a self-absorbed trust-fund slacker who tries to improve his romantic odds by preying on desperate single mothers. His cynical strategy backfires when he recruits the misfit son (Nicholas Hoult) of a suicidal mother (Toni Collette) to pose as his own son, thus proving his parental prowess to his latest single-mom target (Rachel Weisz). The kid has a warming effect on this ultimate cad, and what could have been a sappy tearjerker turns into a subtle, frequently hilarious portrait of familial quirks and elevated self-esteem. From start to finish, it's a genuine treat. --Jeff Shannon

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