Movie Review: About a Boy (2002)

Having kids. Not everyone’s cup of tea. There, I said it. So many think everyone should have kids and that there’s something wrong with you if you don’t. But that’s such a narrow view of stuff. Be open to other people’s life choices. And those who don’t wanna have kids, don’t look down at those who have kids. Let’s all be friends.

Ladies and gentlemen… “About a Boy”.

Will (Hugh Grant) is an immature, cynical bachelor that has chosen single mothers as his new dating targets, and he’s willing to put up any lie to get inside their pants. This however backfires when a 12-year old boy (Nicholas Hoult) starts seeing through his lie, and becomes a central part of Will’s life. And maybe these two will learn some stuff from each other. So now we have our rom-rom/coming-of-age story. And it honestly subverted a lot of expectations I had. With these two genres, one expects a lot of tropes, and we do get a few of them here, which end up being some of the weaker elements of the story. But with that said, there’s still enough nuance and subversion here to make it an intriguing and surprisingly engaging take on these two familiar genres, while still giving you some of the heartwarming bits you’d expect.

The characters in this are flawed, layered, colorful, and overall quite interesting. Hugh Grant plays Will, the cynical man-child at the center of this story. Never one to commit himself to a single person for long, he drifts around various women like a lying asshole. He isn’t the typical charming, Hugh Grant rom-com character, and it makes him quite an intriguing and refreshing character to watch as he evolves. And Grant is great in the role. Next we have a young Nicholas Hoult as Marcus, the little kid that Will begrudgingly “befriends”. He’s a bit weird, but he’s also clever, charming, and quite an endearing kid. And Hoult is really good in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Toni Collette, Natalia Tena, Rachel Weisz, Victoria Smurfit, and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score was composed by the musician known as Badly Drawn Boy, and it was good. They’re basically indie pop songs, which I’d assume is the genre that Badly Drawn Boy might be associated with usually. There are even a few instrumentals that could fit that description used throughout. And this music works alright within the story. The tunes themselves are pretty good, it’s just that when used within a movie context, it creates a bit of a bland vibe. So overall… pretty good.

Based on a novel by Nick Hornby, this movie was directed by Chris Weitz and Paul Weitz, and I think they did a good job with it. There’s certainly a warmth their direction brings that makes it feel nice to watch (if that makes any sense). What really surprised me though was the shot composition. So many romantic comedies out there have what I like to call a “start the camera” look, in which it just looks like they started the camera, with no real thought of giving the movie an interesting style or any fun camerawork. But here, there’s plenty of both, this is a really well shot movie. And since it’s a comedy, we should talk about the humor… it’s funny. Some light slapstick, some surprisingly dark jokes, some clever digs at things. I laughed throughout.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 93% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 75/100. Roger Ebert gave it 3,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,1/10. The movie was nominated for 1 Oscar in the category of Best Adapted Screenplay.

While it still dips into cliches at times, “About a Boy” still subverts enough to impress. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, good music, great directing, and funny comedy. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “About a Boy” is an 8,97/10. So while a little flawed, it’s still definitely worth buying.

My review of “About a Boy” is now completed.

Hughbert Grantchester is a lot better when he gets to do these slightly more offbeat characters.

Series Review: A Very English Scandal (2018)

What? You thought I was taking a break from blogging just because it’s christmas? Pffft. Don’t be silly.

Disclaimer: I know this thing is based on a true story, but I will not base my review on how perfectly accurate to the real situation it may or may not be, but I will instead judge it as a show… which it is. Disclaimer over.

Ladies and gentlemen… “A Very English Scandal”.

We follow Jeremy Thorpe (Hugh Grant), a British politician who’s beloved by many. But that could change if the people found out that he’d had a sexual relationship with a young man named Norman (Ben Whishaw). So really this is all about how Thorpe tries to cover up this part of his life, for fear of Norman exposing him. And I really liked the plot here. It not only gives us an engaging personal journey for both Thorpe and Norman, but we also get a fascinating look at how British politics and such worked in the 1960s and 1970s. It’s mainly steeped in drama, which it already handles very well, but what really gives it an edge is a sort of sly wit that makes it a lot more watchable. So yeah, the plot here is layered, fun, and overall quite engaging.

The characters here are layered, colorful, and just overall interesting. Hugh Grant plays Jeremy Thorpe, a highly charismatic British politician (paradoxical description, I know) who, as I already mentioned, has a secret… a secret that back in those days could be devastating if it would be brought into the light. So seeing him develop throughout the show as he deals with trying to hide his “shameful sins” is quite fascinating. And Hugh Grant is Hugh Great in the role. Ben Whishaw plays Norman Josiffe, the young man that Thorpe has his affair with. After they have a bit of a falling out, Norman kind of tries to expose this affair to the world. And seeing him go through all his struggles in the series is quite interesting. And Whishaw is great in the role. We also get supporting performances from people like Alex Jennings, Patricia Hodge, Paul Hilton, Blake Harrison, and many more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the show was composed by Murray Gold, and I think he did a great job with it. Remember how I said the storytelling here has kind of a sly wit to it? That often reflects in the score as well, as it both through its excellent main theme and a few other pieces carries an almost bouncy feel to it that captures the witty style quite well. That’s not to say that it’s all fun, as Gold also knows when to pull it back a bit and create some really good dramatic pieces.

Based on a book by John Preston, the show was written by Russell T. Davies and directed by Stephen Frears, and I think their teamwork here paid off quite well, as I think the craft on display here is really solid. There’s an energy to it all that makes it quite entertaining to follow, Frears (who is a generally a good director) really brought his A-game here. And Davies’ writing here presents all characters here in a way that doesn’t take much of an actual stance. Positives, negatives, both are shown here. The writing here is also surprisingly funny. Not in a straight-up comedy kind of way, but (again) in a sort of sly way.

This show has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 97% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 84/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,9/10.

“A Very English Scandal” is a surprisingly entertaining political drama filled with great acting. It has a really good plot, good characters, great performances, great music, and great writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “A Very English Scandal” is a 9,61/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “A Very English Scandal” is now completed.

Maybe Hugh Grant is more of a character actor than a proper leading man…

Movie Review: The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015)

Remakes and reboots. Attempting to make such a thing of a beloved movie/show is qutie a gambit. Often they are hated by people because people don’t like things changing. Reboots and remakes will happen, we have to accept that. That said, you can still silently curse the people making them.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”!

Welcome to the 1960s. American CIA agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) and Soviet KGB agent Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) are forced to team up to stop a mysterious and villainous organization from proliferating nuclear weapons. So now we have our cold war spy plot. The idea in itself works fine, problem is that this plot in itself is executed pretty mediocrely. I was never really invested in the plot. Look, I don’t need a spy-action movie to have a deep and symbolic plot, but if it aims to have a plot, then maybe try to make it engaging on some level. And I never felt fully engaged here. Overall it is an entertaining and well paced journey that I would just call… fine.

What this movie lacks in plot, it makes up for in characters. The characters in this movie are pretty interesting and really entertaining. Napoleon Solo as a character is supposed to be this lovable rogue with a snarky attitude and tons of charm, and Henry Cavill portrays these things very well. Basically he’s James Bond if James Bond was American and more likable. Illya Kuryakin is the more serious of the two, he’s a big dude with a twitch and a fairly serious attitude. And while his accent can be a little on and off at times, I think Armie Hammer overall worked really well in the role. I also have to mention that these two main guys work very well together, they got great chemistry. Alicia Vikander plays a woman that our two heroes work with to find and stop the bad guys, and she was really good in the role. Elizabeth Debicki plays the villain of the movie and she’s good in the role. Yeah, this movie is filled with good/entertaining performances.

The score for the movie was composed by Daniel Pemberton and it was quite good. It was energetic, fun, exciting, and just overall worked very well for the movie. It even includes the classic “Guy Ritchie movie flute” as I call it. I first heard it making a very notable appearance in the score/soundtrack from “Snatch”. And it made a very triumphant return in this movie. Not complaining, just thought it would be worth pointing out. Ritchie seems to love his crazy flute.

As you probably understood from the previous paragraph, this movie was directed by Guy Ritchie, and I think he did a good job here. Like with most of his movies, he brings a lot of energy which makes scenes a lot more fun and interesting to watch. And the action scenes in this movie, they’re good. Not great, but definitely entertaining. There’s of course also a good amount of humor in this movie, and I thought it was funny… for the most part. There was one or two jokes that didn’t really entertain me here, but for the most part I thought the comedy in this movie was funny.

This movie has been decently well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 67% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 56/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,3/10.

“The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” is a really fun spy-action-comedy movie. It has an okay plot, good characters, really good performances, great music, really good directing, and good comedy. The only thing that brings it down was the plot not being that great. Time for my final score. *Bang*. My final score for “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” is an 8,88/10. While flawed, I’d still say that it’s worth buying.

My review of “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” is now completed.

This was fun.