Nick Hornby writes some good books. They provide escape, along with a slice of real life, with characters that are undeniably easy to relate to, and are often stuck behind their own rules and foibles, forced to grow up at some point in their lives.
It has been many years since I read About A Boy, or saw the film version that served as an excellent adaptation, with Hugh Grant in the starring role.
I had not heard much, if anything, about this series, but when it popped up on Netflix, I gave it a shot, with very little expectation.
But, in the first 12 episodes, About A Boy proves itself to be a very worthy TV series. It is fun, interesting, full of solid characters, and even manages to tug at the heartstrings a little bit.
The story is virtually the same as the source material. This time, Will is neighbors with Marcus and his odd mother, and they become friends as the show progresses. Eventually, Marcus has become an important part of Will’s life, and one that is powerful enough to affect his decisions. At first, this is not a problem for Will, as he likes spending time with the kid, primarily because it allows him to be a kid himself. Marcus is an oddball, and needs a male influence in his life, as his father works in Antarctica with penguins. Despite the best intentions of his mother, he needs someone normal who can help guide him through life, how to be a little bit cooler, and how to break free of the often Norma Bates-like hold she has on his life.
Things begin to change when Will meets Dr. Sam, a woman who literally checks all the boxes of everything he had dreamed about in a woman. For the first time, Will truly cares about someone, and he knows that she is going to change his life. Will is forced to look at his life, and how he wants to live it. Does he want to continue to be a man-child? Does he want to remain as the fatherly influence in Marcus’ life? Or does he want to carve out his own path with Sam, who even to viewers, comes across as pretty much the perfect woman. It doesn’t hurt that she is played by the gorgeous Adrianne Padlicki, who we know from the TV version of Friday Night Lights.
The cast of the show is solid across the board. David Walton is strong as Will, being goofy enough that we believe he doesn’t want to grow up, and charming enough to understand that he can be successful enough with women, and be able to get a great catch like Dr. Sam. Minnie Driver (remember her!?!) plays the overbearing mother, and Marcus is played by Benjamin Stockman. As often annoying as kids can be on the screen, Stockman plays the role well, being perfectly awkward in all of the situations he is thrown in to.
About A Boy is worth a watch. It is great that there is no laugh track, and it doesn’t feel like it is trying too hard. It is not focused on being a pure comedy, and not completely focused on being a drama. It does a good job of blending both elements, and it makes it come across as pretty natural, and easy to watch. A short first season makes it a perfect nominee for a good old fashioned Netflix binge watch.
For fans of the book or the film, the TV series will not be a disappointment. It stays pretty true to the origins of the story, and doesn’t veer far enough to alienate any fans. While the same kind of wit may not be there as there were in the British novel or British TV show, but it felt like it was a little more emotionally touching than the first two versions.
The series hooked me enough that I am curious to see what they are going to do with a second season, if there is one (as planned).
I would recommend checking out About A Boy.