There is something to be said for keeping things simple, and this is exactly the case with the DVD release of “About a Boy.”

Though there are some extras — deleted scenes with director’s commentary, a making-of featurette, outtakes and music videos — there’s nothing too excessive on the DVD to drown out the brilliance of the movie.

Extreme movie buffs may be disappointed by the lack of features to play around with, but putting all that aside there’s a great film to be had here.

Adapted from a Nick Hornby novel, screenwriters Peter Hedges and Chris and Paul Weitz were able to make the movie that could have been unremittingly sappy into one of poignant humor and human emotion.

What really powers the film are the performances by Hugh Grant as Will, the shallow, unemployed ne’er-do-well living off the royalties of his father’s only hit song while preying on single mothers, and the young Nicholas Hault as Marcus, the outcast with a suicidal mother, Fiona –Toni Collette.

The film focuses on the relationship between Will and Marcus. Both Grant and Hault show the growth of the characters as a result of the close bond that develops between them. Their relationship grows though amusing moments, like when Marcus accidentally kills a duck when he gets frustrated and throws a rock-hard loaf of bread into a pond, and heartbreaking ones too.

Will is the boy who never grew up, while Marcus is the boy that had to grow up too fast. This is the perfect role for Grant, who remains charming while being full of dry wit and cynicism.

It becomes clear which one of them is more mature whenever they converse but over the course of time they learn from each other.What the movie suffers from however, is the underdevelopment of the supporting players. Collette is able to pull out of this, but Rachel Weisz remains weak as Will’s love interest. We are never given a full understanding as to why Will is so taken by her that he lies about Marcus being his son.

Even taking this into account, the movie remains only partially blemished. It is Marcus, not Rachel who ultimately changes Will and the relationship between them that makes watching the movie worthwhile.Forget about all those silly extras that studio executives like to stuff down our throats, “About a Boy” proves that with just a few extra features, the movie doesn’t suffer.

Troyer can be reached at mtroyer@campustimes.org.



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