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About a Boy

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Nick Hornby - About a boy - 1998

Synopsis: Will is thirty-six but acts like a teenager. He reads the right magazines, goes to the right clubs and knows which trainers to wear. He's also discovered a great way to score with women - at single parents' groups, full of available (and grateful) mothers, all waiting for Mr Nice Guy. That's where he meets Marcus, the oldest twelve-year-old in the world. Marcus is a bit strange: he listens to Joni Mitchell and Mozart, he looks after his Mum and he's never even owned a pair of trainers. Perhaps if Will can teach Marcus how to be a kid, Marcus can help Will grow up - and they can both start to act their age ...
A funny yet thoughtful and touching novel. The way Will and Marcus get together and grow together, family life is seen from a totally different point of view. And the singles' life, as well. I liked this book, a lot. And, even though they changed the end, I also liked the movie.(thread first started 03.05.06)

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The rest of the thread:

 

Claire 3rd May 2006 10:42 PM

Me too, I loved this book and for all the reasons you mention. I loved the developing friendship between Marcus and Ellie aswell, (hope I've got her name right), to see such very different kids knocking against each other and both being changed by the contact was good.

 

I've not seen the film, (I have a bit of a Hugh Grant allergy, due to the annoyingness of his fringe!!), I'd be interested to know what they've done to the ending - behind a spoiler tag, of course! Is it worth watching, would you say?

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Momo 4th May 2006 12:53 PM

Well, if you absolutely dislike Hugh Grant, I wouldn't recommend it though he has a different hairstyle in this one and isn't really his usual self. I think, he captured Will's character quite well. :D (Maybe there's a similarity with his real life. ;) )

So, here comes the end for you:

Anyway, at the end there is a performance at Marcus' school where he sings "Killing me softly" for his mom and all the kids laugh at him. Will comes to his rescue and plays the guitar so the performance is a success. The next and last scene is Christmas at Will's house where he invited everyone, Marcus and Fiona, Rachel and Ali, Ellie and a friend whom Will knows from Amnesty for Fiona. It was alright but I remembered the end different from the book.

I know how you feel, there are actors I really really dislike and I wouldn't want to watch one more movie with them. Hugh Grant does not belong to them, though. But I know a lot of people who feel like you.

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Claire 5th May 2006 01:35 PM

Thanks for that, Momo. I'm always interested in the way books relate to films. I wonder what the reasoning behind the change was.

 

I'm not completely and utterly opposed to Hugh Grant - I did enjoy him in that Jane Austen film he was in (was it Sense and Sensibility?), so maybe I'll give About a Boy a go.

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Mungus 5th May 2006 06:41 PM

I'm glad you said that the ending was different in the two versions. I read and enjoyed the book yonks ago and after the film came out, took advantage of a night in alone to rent it. (Being a chick flick, it wouldn't get past the front door normally.) The DVD got to the final scene, as spoilered above and jumped back to a random scene mid-film! Nightmare! Not amount of polishing and persuasion would let me see the final scenes and I couldn't remember what happened - and now I know why! Although, having said that, I can't remember the book ending either...

 

I do like Hugh Grant, but I'd recommend the film to those with a mild disinclination because I think he's less smug than usual in this one.

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Momo 5th May 2006 07:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mungus

I do like Hugh Grant, but I'd recommend the film to those with a mild disinclination because I think he's less smug than usual in this one.

-----

Agree.

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This is my third Hornby novel, and the guy just can do no wrong. The lightness of his narrative coupled with the immaturity of his characters make for great fun. I find myself simply going with the flow of his prose and noting his observations of people in general. That something like this would never happen in real life doesn't even bother me, and I find myself suspending my disbelief out of sheer enjoyment of his wonderful little stories.

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I am one of those who generally avoids Hugh Grant but I can thoroughly recommend this film. I have never read the book but the film is fantastic and as others have said Hugh Grant is slightly less Hugh Grantish. By the way, how does the book end?

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I did enjoy this book. I finished it a couple of weeks ago (another of my charity stall finds) but it reminded me why I make a point of NEVER seeing a film of something before I've read the book. I think it might have been far more touching and intricate and clever if I hadn't had Hugh Grant's face in my head the whole time. I would have liked the chance to form my own characters. But it was good and I'm glad I have finally read it. Some of the ways in which Marcus views the world are so simple and frank and engaging that it reminds you a bit of what it was like to be 13. It was sort of cringy but sort of warm too and I thought the portrayal of that from an adult writer was really good.

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That is one of the things I think annoy me when I've read the book. I have my own imaginations about a character and no real person will be like that.

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What a wonderfully light touch Nick Hornby has! Even during the most pathos ridden moments of the book he never lost sight of the absurdity of the human condition. And he certainly tackles the big questions. And the way Will grew as a human being, in spite of himself, was brilliant. I can hardly believe how much I enjoyed reading this book. Nick Hornby is a revelation, and I really look forward to reading more of his work.

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One of Hornby's books is called "31 Songs" where he writes about his favourite 31 recordings.  At the top of his list is Bruce Springsteen's "Thunder Road" which, at the time I read the book, I'd never heard.  It's now one of my all-time favourites.

 

Another of his books is "Fever Pitch" in which he describes watching football from behind the goal at Elm Park (the then home of my beloved Reading FC).  Sadly, Hornby went on to become an Arsenal fan!

 

And yet another of his books is "High Fidelity", where the characters are forever compiling lists of favourite records under certain headings. 

 

Of all his books, though, "Slam" is the one that has stayed with me the longest.  I can't think of a single book of his that I didn't enjoy.

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