About a Boy (Rental) (2002)

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Rental Version Only
Available for Rent

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Trailer-Johnny English; The Guru
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 97:03
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (75:03) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Chris Weitz
Paul Weitz

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Hugh Grant
Nicholas Hoult
Toni Collette
Rachel Weisz
Victoria Smurfit
Case ?
RPI Rental Music Badly Drawn Boy

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    I love Nick Hornby's writing. I find that most books written from a male perspective tend to lean to the macho side of things (having said that, I only read very 'basic' books that tend to deal with blowing things up and catching bad guys), so I was completely thrilled when I stumbled across some writing from this London native.

    For those of you who have seen the previous Hornby adaptation, the magnificent High Fidelity, About A Boy is a story told in a similar vein. It tells a very funny story from a male perspective, and is a humorous but realistic enough illustration of the male mindset when it comes to attachments and one's own feeling of self-adoration.

    The film follows two main characters. Will (Hugh Grant) is a wealthy playboy slacker who lives off the royalties of a corny Christmas jingle his father wrote 40 years ago. Marcus (Nicholas Hoult) is an awkward loser whose single hippie mother embarrasses him through her desire for Marcus to be his own person and not simply conform to what is 'cool'. Through a series of incidents, Marcus meets Will and decides to set him up with his mother, Fiona (Toni Collette). It does not really work, but Marcus still wants to be Will's friend. Needless to say, Will does not want a squirmy, tea cosy-wearing, crooked-toothed 12 year-old with a bowl haircut cramping his style. Herein lies the rest of the film, as Marcus and Will's personalities and lifestyles slowly levitate toward each other.

    About A Boy would rank as the best comedy I have seen since High Fidelity. I love the arrogance of Hugh Grant's Will and the resignation of Nicholas Hoult as Marcus - Hoult plays Marcus perfectly and delivers every line with ease. Toni Collette is fantastic as Fiona, but it really is Hugh Grant's film, as he steals every scene.

    Traditionally, I am not a Hugh Grant fan. I have never really seen what is so great about him. He blinks a lot, has floppy hair and with the exception of Bridget Jones' Diary, plays an uppity, nervous Brit who is usually stuck in 'fish out of water' situations . . . over and over again. This film changes all of that! He plays Will with such a cocky, selfish arrogance, and delivers every line so well that you cannot believe that it is the same man who was in Mickey Blue Eyes.

    Keenly directed by Paul and Chris Weitz, the brothers who gave us American Pie, the film has a brisk pace and clocks in at just the right length to give us tonnes of set ups, as well as enough gags to separate the 'serious' scenes. Great use of music by Badly Drawn Boy and some lovely edits make sure that we are entertained for every minute of this film. A definite must see for anyone with a sense of humour . . .

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Transfer Quality


    Sadly, the video transfer of About A Boy falls well short of the film itself. Suffering from a lot of aliasing and some mild edge enhancement, the picture is slightly soft and unclear for most of the film.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced.

    There is a distinct lack of sharpness throughout the film. While there is no prevalence of grain or scenes that are badly out of focus, the picture appears a little soft for the majority of the film. There are a few instances of edge enhancement at 45:36 and 88:10, along with some less noticeable moments throughout the presentation.

    The colours seem a little washed out and drab as well. I saw this film three times theatrically and remember the colours to be vibrant and strong. One scene in particular that definitely looks grey and washed out on this DVD occurs when Will drives away at 3:05. Sometimes the colours look fine and strong but like the scene mentioned, the colour palette seems to have been greyed out, particularly toward the start of the film.

    There is no posterization or pixelization, but the amount of aliasing in very concentrated spaces is so chunky that it sometimes looks like pixelization. Overall there is scarcely a shot in the film that does not suffer from some aliasing or shimmer, and it is rarely spread out over a large area of the screen. Hence it is usually seen in small patches, which is very annoying and gives a rough edge to many shots. Some examples are at 17:06, 19:49, 20:09, 20:19, 25:07, 33:09, 33:50 and 36:20. There are quite a few flecks of dirt and dust throughout the film as well, but you would stop short of calling it a dirty print. Moments where an odd splotchy speck can be seen are at 27:13 and 74:42.

    I watched about 15 minutes of the English subtitles and found them to be accurate enough compared to the spoken word.

    This is an RSDL disc, with the layer change occurring before the end of a scene at 75:03, where the audio is very quiet and the camera is fairly still. This is a very good placement - some thought has obviously gone into it.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    This is a solid audio transfer with no artefacts to be heard. To be honest though, there is not a great deal in this film to really show off your set up.

    There is one audio track on this disc: an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack running at 384 kb/s.

    The dialogue quality is solid and has a resonant sound to it. While there are a lot of looped lines in this film, audio synch is good enough, with no moments worth noting here.

    The music by Badly Drawn Boy is perfect for the style and feel of the film. It comes mainly from the left and right channels with a bit from the surrounds for good measure. It is light, relaxing and suits the film down to the ground.

    There is not a lot of work for the surrounds or subwoofer here, but there probably shouldn't be, either. About 90% of this film involves someone sitting or walking while talking to another person, so I am not disappointed with this aspect of the transfer.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    As this is a rental release, there are only a couple of trailers on offer here. They will play on start-up, but you can choose to play them from the menu if you like.

Teaser Trailer - Johnny English (0:38)

    A nice trailer to get here, considering that this trailer is hardly even in theatres as I write this. The film is made by Working Title (as is About A Boy), so I guess it is just good marketing! Starring Rowan Atkinson in what will be another spy spoof, this trailer is presented in a ratio of 1.80:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced, but gets a 192 kb/s soundtrack.

Theatrical Trailer - The Guru (1:59)

    Presented in a ratio of 1.33:1, this film looks a lot better than it actually is.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    As this is a rental release, it is unfair to compare it to the R1 version due out early in 2003. When released, it will have the following features: Featurette, Deleted scenes with commentary by the Weitz Brothers, Outtakes, 2 music videos, Killing Me Softly sing-along karaoke, English to English dictionary, Santa's Super Sleigh lyrics, production notes, filmographies and trailers. I have this disc on order and will be sure to compare it to the R4 sell-through release.


    As you can tell, I really loved this film! It is really my kind of comedy - a genre I normally get little enjoyment from. Hugh Grant is brilliant, as is the script, the ideas, the direction, the music and the original author. Nicholas Hoult is very good as Marcus, and I struggle to imagine too many people not enjoying About A Boy.

    Sadly, the video transfer is unpolished and flawed.

    The audio transfer is solid, but not awe inspiring.

    The extras will hopefully appear on a later sell-through release.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Hugh Fotheringham (what the hell is going on in bio??)
Friday, November 29, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-S525, using Component output
DisplayLoewe Xelos (81cm) 16:9. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS797- THX Select
SpeakersJamo X550 Left and Right, Jamo X5CEN Centre, Jamo X510 Surround

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