Recently NBC premiered a new comedy, released mid-season, About a Boy starring David Walton (who previously starred on New Girl) and Minnie Driver. If the title sounds familiar, the show is based on a Nick Hornby novel of the same name. This book also inspired a movie, starring Hugh Grant and Toni Collette, which was released in 2002. I’ve long been a fan of Nick Hornby, and I have to say, I love it all. I loved the movie, and so far I’m enjoying the show. The story itself follows a single mother raising a young boy who is in desperate need of a male influence in his life. He brings together his mother, who is struggling all alone, and a notorious bachelor, it makes for great comedy!
Will Freeman, the main character in the story, the David /Hugh character, is a carefree womanizing bachelor when he happens upon Marcus. I have to say that of the two screen versions, Hugh Grant is my favorite. Of course. I don’t think I can honestly say I haven’t liked every single one of his movies. Just like his character in Bridget Jones’ Diary, he is delightfully naughty, and incredibly charming. Here, in Boy, he is reformed – by his love for Marcus, which is something quite unexpected. This makes him even more loveable, and in the story, although the TV show hasn’t progressed this far, he falls in love, almost unwittingly, with Marcus’s mother.
I’m not too sure about Marcus’s mother. In the beginning of the book she attempts suicide, this also happens in the movie, but doesn’t seem to be part of the NBC version. Even though it’s just a book (tv show/movie), it’s so sad that she felt that desperate – thankfully she survives, but there’s a lot of healing that needs to happen for both her and Marcus. Toni Colette nails the vulnerability of the character, I’m not too sure about Minnie Driver. She takes a different approach to the character, although her character on the show is a bit of a departure from the original Fiona. As Will’s neighbor, Miss Driver’s Fiona is very opinionated, and not that happy about his relationship with her son.
Marcus is the real heart of the story, bringing these two unlikely characters together. Each version of his mother is dark, depressive, and in need of light and positivity in her life. He is drawn to Will because he has no male influence in his life, and he desperately needs one. On the show he is bullied, as he and his mother have recently moved into a new neighborhood. Will’s mission becomes focused on toughening Marcus up, protecting him from the bullies. This is what is most endearing about Will, and what helps Fiona see past his immaturity.
At first when show premiered, I wasn’t sure where the series would go, as the book really isn’t that long. At some point there will be a departure from Hornby’s original story. One thing’s for sure – I will be tuning in!