Review Date: May 15, 2002
Director: Chris & Paul Weitz
Writer: Chris & Paul Weitz
Producers: Robert DeNiro, Jane Rosenthal, Tim Bevan
The film is based on the novel by Nick Hornby, the man behind the critically acclaimed HIGH FIDELITY a couple of years ago, the producers of DIARY and would you believe...the two brothers responsible for AMERICAN PIE? (Chris and Paul Weitz) What makes that last fact even more surprising is that this film is filled with lots of clever humor, a lot of adult themes and yes...no gross-out jokes for miles! The brothers also do a great job with the directing end of their gig, with a quirky feel whenever the film was in need of it, and a graceful manner in the more dramatic sequences (and you gotta admire anyone who can work a serious topic like suicide into this generally lighter movie and make it work). But enough about the story, which was both engaging and sweet, and allow me to send out some more props to both Grant and the surprisingly solid child actor in this film, Nicholas Hault. The chemistry between the two is both clear and endearing, and Grant seems to have not only matured as an actor with this film (he's always been funny to me-- every time he would tell someone what he does for a living ("nothing"), it just cracked me up), but he also seems to have lost his trademark stutter. The kid also isn't the typical precocious jerk that you find in most films, in fact, he is quite smart, but also adorable, mature beyond his years and pretty sensitive to boot.
I never thought that a film about an older man and a young kid would entice me as much as this one did, but I'll admit that I really wanted those two crazy bastards to get together in the end (not "get together" together, but you know what I mean!) Toni Collette was also strong in the film, which I appreciated even more since her character is actually quite deranged and could have been made to be a caricature. It's to her credit that she didn't make me hate her as much as I thought I might, from the type of mother that she is...on paper (the inside joke about Haley Joel Osment was also cute). The film's soundtrack is also agreeable, the minor appearance by Rachel Weisz is nice but more of her would have been even nicer, the message is sound and a relatable one for yours truly (yeah, I'm single and miserable, boys and girls), and overall, the film just worked and was a joy to watch. This isn't a movie for the "teen" demographic, so it might have been a decent move of counter-programming on the part of the studio execs pitting it up against Lucas' behemoth child, but I really do hope that it doesn't get lost in the shuffle. Not many movies come out every year that I can recommend through and through, and that can engage me from start to finish, with laughs, smiles, moments of frustration and tears, but ultimately, great entertainment, but this movie is definitely one of them.