If you’re a fan of the Hugh Grant movie or the original Nick Hornby novel, then you will probably be slightly appalled by the new American sitcom adaptation of About A Boy. Upbeat, sentimental, full of forced dialogue and culminating in a horrendously cheesy Glee-esque climax, NBC have turned this charming, subtley dark romantic comedy in to a mainstream family-friendly show.
If you’re unacquainted with the story, About A Boy is really about laid back, pleasure-seeking bachelor, Will, who shirks all responsibility to live a life of selfish abandon, until he meets Marcus and his quirky but mentally unstable mother, Fiona. An unlikely friendship flourishes when Marcus begins to teach Will the basics of moral responsibility and what it means to truly care for someone, and, likewise, Will lets Marcus experience life without the pressure of his overbearing restrictive mum, and teaches him how to be ‘cool’.
In this new TV sitcom, the basic elements are all there, but the darker sides of the story have been replaced by an overwhelming light-heartedness. Whereas in the movie, Fiona’s depression and mental illness were portrayed authentically and painfully, this new sitcom brushes over it, merely portraying her as an uptight, hysterical hippy mum, who uses meditation and healthy food to ‘magic’ away her depression.
David Walton embodies the careless, selfishness of Will perfectly (even if he isn’t Hugh Grant) however, Benjamin Stockholm doesn’t quite capture the vulnerability and fear of the bullied Marcus. It was ultimately the culmination of the first episode, which took place at Marcus’ school talent show, which brought fears the TV had accidentally switched itself over to some tweenage high school drama on the Disney channel.
This new About A Boy sitcom shouldn’t just be compared to previous versions, as when taken on its own merits, it is a light-hearted, entertaining and enjoyable family-friendly show, although lacking in wit and originality. However, if you are already a fan of About A Boy, stay clear, or you’ll find yourself weeping at the overt Americanisation of what is a superb British novel and film.
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