Generally favorable reviews - based on 38 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 31 out of 38
  2. Negative: 2 out of 38
  1. 100
    The timing and cutting of the film are terrific, the build-up to an absurdly hilarious climax is just right, and the performances are near perfect.
  2. 100
    That rare romantic comedy that dares to choose messiness over closure, prickly independence over fetishized coupledom, and honesty over typical Hollywood endings.
  3. 90
    As close to mainstream perfection as I've seen all year. It gives us everything we want, need and deserve without batting an eye.
  4. Sophisticated and nuanced, and every character is bursting with emotional contradictions.
  5. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    Movie purists will tell you that a heavy reliance on voice-over is a sin (“show, don’t tell”), but when the words are this funny, to hell with purity.
  6. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    It's irresistible, damn it. Mainstream comedies should all be this funny and tender and deftly performed.
  7. Better than a feelgood movie, it's a feelgreat movie -- genuinely clever, affecting when you least expect it to be and funny from start to finish.
  8. Hilarious, touching and wonderfully dyspeptic.
  9. 89
    About a Boy knows exactly what it wants to do: It wants to make you smile, and grin, and then laugh with recognition, and it manages all three, again and again.
  10. 88
    We have all the action heroes and Method script-chewers we need right now, but the Cary Grant department is understaffed, and Hugh Grant shows here that he is more than a star, he is a resource.
  11. 88
    It's funny, moving and true, and it respects the audience's intelligence as much as the characters'. That combination, no matter the movie's label, deserves to be treasured.
  12. 88
    The summer movie season has barely begun, and already we have its first big surprise.
  13. The film is a sharp, funny, touching tale.
  14. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    About a Boy is a rarity in many ways. It's a well-written, witty film whose memorable characters grapple with the nature of family, love, friendship and despair. Even its soundtrack, by Badly Drawn Boy, is perfectly pitched.
  15. Hugh Grant has grown up, holding on to his lightness and witty cynicism but losing the stuttering sherry-club mannerisms that were once his signature. In doing so, he has blossomed into the rare actor who can play a silver-tongued sleaze with a hidden inner decency.
  16. 80
    Few scenarios are more cliched than the curmudgeonly father-figure who takes in the precocious imp -- irritation in the first two acts, love in the third -- but Hornby infuses it with warmth and honesty, not to mention his obvious gift for wry observation.
  17. The Weitz brothers -- notorious as the authors of the "American Pie" series -- handle the sentimentality of the story with a light, sweet touch.
  18. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of About a Boy is how substantial it plays -- as a feel-good film with weight, a knowing comedy with dramatic depth.
  19. 80
    Illuminating with their energy and wit.
  20. A comedy hit, but its secret is that it delves deeper than the usual summer fare.
  21. Hilarious, acidic Brit comedy.
  22. In addition to being a smart comedy and an excellent showcase for Grant, it's an honest movie about childhood that avoids sappiness and sentiment and goes in unexpected directions.
  23. 75
    Not a daring film, but it is immensely likable. Every once in a while, a movie comes along that, despite traversing familiar terrain, is made with enough all-around skill that it overcomes its clichéd origins. About a Boy is such a movie.
  24. The love that blooms is essentially between the boys. They both have some considerable growing up to do, but theirs is a true romance and it's awfully sweet. Funny, too.
  25. If the brothers Weitzes) don't yet have a defined style, they do seem at ease with this more sophisticated material.
  26. Hugh Grant is one of the true phenomena of new millennium moviemaking. In an era in which the broadest and most scatological comedy imaginable rules, he's built a career for himself as a sophisticated light comedian very much in the style of his hero, David Niven.
  27. Reviewed by: Rich Cline
    As these characters all move from isolated loners to relying on each other, the film never pounds its point in -- even the big set pieces are slightly askance, just giving more insight into the characters without preaching.
  28. 70
    The acid comedy of Grant's performance carries the film. It helps also that newcomer Hoult is that rare child actor who mercifully underplays the pathos of his role.
  29. Because a gradually thawing Will plays more to Grant's strengths, the second part of the film, helped as well by Rachel Weisz as a love interest, is much more fun. But it is still hard not to feel that this film is pushing us too hard, slickly trying to seem more honest than it actually is.
  30. Reviewed by: Renee Graham
    Renders what should have been a wholly entertaining film into a timid, soggy near miss.
  31. 63
    It's hard to stomp on a movie that pulls together a rich lay-about, hippies, a punk girl and an Amnesty International worker in a sort of Peaceable Kingdom, but About a Boy shows the limits of affability.
  32. Reviewed by: Tanya L. Edwards
    Wickedly funny and surprisingly sweet film may be the perfect star vehicle for Grant. He's full of piss and vinegar and has at long last set aside the wobbly, stammering persona best left at "Four Weddings and a Funeral."
  33. 60
    Will warm your heart without making you feel guilty about it.
  34. Reviewed by: Derek Elley
    Pleasant and engaging, rather than laugh-out-loud funny or emotionally involving.
  35. 60
    The other Grant, the irresistible but slippery Cary, was called to account by such strenuous and willful mates as Irene Dunne, Katharine Hepburn, and Ingrid Bergman. But Hugh Grant has never been matched with a woman who directly challenged his oddly recessive charm. [3 June 2002, p. 100]
  36. 50
    There's not much more to this adaptation of the Nick Hornby novel than charm -- effortless, pleasurable, featherweight charm.
  37. 30
    Since the central odd couple have no rapport, their bond never seems to progress past mutual usury.
  38. Was this spiritless stuff really directed by Paul and Chris Weitz of "American Pie" fame? How the rebels have mellowed!
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 98 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 47 out of 53
  2. Negative: 0 out of 53
  1. Dec 10, 2011
    The original book was witty, ingenious, smart, and cheerful. It had life and power in every page. The characters were humorous andThe original book was witty, ingenious, smart, and cheerful. It had life and power in every page. The characters were humorous and charismatic. Everything was great. Hey, what about the movie "About a Boy"? Fabulous, and even better than the book. Full Review »
  2. Oct 10, 2014
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. About a Boy movie was a good translation of the book but lacked some important details. The movie show perfect images given by the book but main points were not reached. The movie also seemed rushed and just speed across the deep situations that needed more explanation and more focus. Even though the movie left out some parts which helped show the change Marcus went through, it was a great example of the novel and was also very heartwarming. Full Review »
  3. Aug 28, 2014
    There are smart moments of wit and poignance, but it's Hugh Grant's performance that'll stick with you. Grant's sidekick, the newcomerThere are smart moments of wit and poignance, but it's Hugh Grant's performance that'll stick with you. Grant's sidekick, the newcomer Nicholas Hoult, clearly was able to learn a thing or two and give a fine performance himself. Full Review »