About a Boy novel/movie (spoilers)

After seeing High Fidelity, I was inspired to read Nick Hornby’s book of the same title. I became an instant fan, and I’ve read the rest of his books. High Fidelity was amazingly faithful to the novel, but I was ambivalent about seeing About a Boy. The latter is driven by internal changes in the major characters, and I wondered how well these could be rendered in a movie.

Firstly, I thought Hugh Grant made an excellent Will. The rest of the characters were also faithful to the book.

I really didn’t care for the plot changes. I thought Ellie’s character was majorly short-changed, without the scenes in the headmistress’ office, Marcus’ homeroom and the New Year’s Eve party. I realize those scenes might have been sacrificed to shorten the running length, but I think their meeting in the office was much more effective than hallway meeting portrayed in the movie.

The talent show was completely absent from the book, and I think the book was a lot better for it.

The English to English dictionary included as a DVD extra was a nice touch.

What did everyone else think?

Well, what I loved so much about the book was the whole Nirvana connection between Marcus and Ellie, and Kurt Cobains death being the root to the climax of the movie worked extraordinarily well. I loved About A Boy just as much as High Fidelity.

As for the movie…well, I liked it. I’ll give it that, but it was a very different kind of story. The plot was essentailly identical, but the whole feel of it was different than the book. The film makers did a great job of making it work cinematically, but I would have liked it to have been more faithful to the book (I doubt Courtney Love would have authorized the use of Kurt’s name and music though).

All in all, I prefer the book, but was pleasantly suprised with the movie. It was very enjoyable and well acted, but not Nick Hornby’s vision.

I first read High Fidelity back in 1997 and fell in love with it. I bought an autographed copy of About A Boy the week it came out, but unfortunately missed getting to meet Nick Hornby personally by a matter of hours. I had no idea he was doing a signing. I have yet to read How to be Good though. I adore his short story Nipple Jesus, however, in the Speaking with the Angel anthology he edited.

What I loved most about About a Boy was the way it took the set-up for typical contrived romantic comedy and then completely defied my expectations as a reader who has watched more than his share of romantic comedies and been entertained by them, but also annoyed by their lack of realism.

Haven’t seen the movie yet, but I have heard good things about it.

It’s one of my favorite short stories. I also really appreciated the introduction, when he described raising an autistic child.