About a Boy

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to: navigation, search
About a boy movie poster 5771.jpg

About a Boy is a 1998 novel by Nick Hornby, made into a film starring Hugh Grant in 2002 with a soundtrack album by Badly Drawn Boy.

Apathetic bachelor Will, who lives comfortably off of the royalties from a popular Christmas song his father wrote, comes up with the idea to join a Single Parents group in order to pick up single moms, despite the fact that he is childless. This starts off a chain of events in which he meets Marcus, an awkward young teenage boy being raised by a depressed, out-of-touch single mother.

Marcus is constantly bullied at school and feels alone in the world. He gloms on to Will, who merely tolerates him at first but begins to grow attached to the boy and helps him gain confidence, deal with his mother, and win the affection of an older punk rocker girl at his school. At the same time, spending time with Marcus begins to show Will just how empty his life really is.

In the end, Marcus becomes a more socially adjusted kid, Will learns to accept other people into his life, and everyone lives Happily Ever After.


Tropes used in About a Boy include:
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Will after Marcus gets him the joke gift of a Single Parents handbook.
  • Adult Child: Will.
  • Artifact Title: Partly true of the movie, which loses the references to Nirvana that added to the meaning of the book title. Of course, the movie still is literally about a boy (in more ways than one).
  • Chekhov's Gun: Early in the movie, Marcus sees a guitar in Will's flat and asks him if he uses it to write songs, but Will basically says it's just there to look cool. In the climax, Will uses a guitar to save Marcus from committing social suicide.
  • Concert Climax
  • Cringe Comedy: Marcus singing "Killing Me Softly With His Song"... at first.
  • Happy Ending: Marcus becomes a more socially adjusted kid, Will learns to accept other people into his life, and everyone lives Happily Ever After.
  • It's All About Me: Will though its really more due to his refusal to look for companionship than outright selfishness.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Will.
  • Must Have Lots of Free Time: Will, but it's justified.
  • Never Heard That One Before: No, Will is not tired of all the people singing "Santa's Super Sleigh" once they learn his father wrote it.
  • Parental Substitute: Will reluctantly spends time with Marcus at first, but eventually evolves into a sort of father figure to him.
  • Pick Up Babes with Babes
  • Revised Ending: Owing to the film's new chronological setting, its ending is completely different from the book's.
  • Shout-Out: The book's title is an homage to both the Nirvana song "About a Girl" and Patti Smith's Kurt Cobain tribute "About a Boy". The book makes countless references to Nirvana and Cobain (Ellie idolizes Cobain, Marcus thinks Cobain is a British athlete, Cobain dies near the end of the book). However, the movie does not mention Nirvana.
  • The Slacker: Will.
  • Uncle Pennybags: Whilst he is nowhere near as rich as most of the examples, Will is able to afford a really nice apartment in the middle of London and really is fun to be around, despite never having a job thanks to the royalties from his dad's song.
  • Wham Scene: The movie starts out funny and lighthearted until Marcus and Will come home from the park to find that Marcus's mom has just attempted suicide.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Marcus is a very dark version. His lack of a father figure, unstable mother and overall miserable life means that he has had to learn to be emotionally mature long before he should have.