Will (Hugh Grant) has managed to get to the age of 38 without working, developing any long-term relationships or having any children. He is an island. In fact he likes to think of himself as Ibiza! Will lives on the royalties of his father’s “one hit wonder” Christmas song. He has plenty of money and he fills in his days watching television, playing pool, having lunch and planning his next female conquest. Will decides that single mothers would be easy prey so he pretends he is a single father so that he can go to a single parents group. The plan backfires when 12-year-old Marcus tries to match him up with his depressed suicidal mother.
This is a simple comedy drama that is short on story but has enough big laughs to make it worthwhile. It has elements of “Four Weddings and a Funeral” and “Bridget Jones’s Diary” about it but doesn’t quite match up to these. It touches on some serious issues like depression, suicide, school bullying and broken families but pulls back from developing these in any great detail. After all it is a comedy! However the message of being your own person and accepting that sometimes you just can’t please everyone is well made. There were a few times when the film could have fallen into the “sentimentality trap” but thankfully these traps were skilfully manoeuvred around.
The film is heavily dependent on Hugh Grant’s performance. It is a familiar role for him and he plays the English “twit” perfectly! Grant provides the biggest laughs and it is fair to say that his performance lifts the film out of the ordinary.
Nicholas Hoult plays 12-year-old Marcus and I felt that he looked less than comfortable in some of his scenes. He has a major part in the film and perhaps the pressure of this took its toll.
Toni Collette (Muriel’s Wedding) plays Marcus’ mother and maybe her part could have been “beefed up” to add more comedy.
Lasting thought: You might want to be an island but every so often you have to visit the mainland!