January 29, 2014
For those unfamiliar, Nick Hornby is an adorable British author whose books are heartwarming, sincere and easy to read — and also, really very good. Because of their unique combination of whimsy and heft, they lend themselves well to film adaptation.
As such, they’ve been adapted many times, with varying degrees of success. The latest such adaptation is A Long Way Down (due in March), which is about four people who intend to kill themselves on New Year’s Eve but become friends instead. It will star Aaron Paul and Toni Collette.
To prep, let’s rank Hornby’s four movies to date. Two of these movies are two of my favorite movies, one is one that I like a lot, and one is like, dumb, but I still like it. Let’s review.
#4. Fever Pitch
Fever Pitch was originally made into a British movie in 1997, starring Colin Firth. I haven’t seen that one, but I’d like to, because of Colin Firth. The one I have seen is an American remake from 2005 (which Hornby produced), starring Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon.
It’s pretty standard rom-com territory — boy and girl are in love, but boy is in love with the Red Sox more, which will he choose?? It’s fine, but certainly not great.
#3 An Education
This was not based on a book by Hornby, but Hornby did write the screenplay (or rather, he adapted it, from a memoir by the journalist Lynn Barber). He was even nominated for an Oscar for his work.
As that implies, this was an Oscar-nominated movie; generally, it was believed to be great. And while I don’t think it’s GREAT, it is pretty good! It has Peter Sarsgaard, who is weirdly sexy, and it was a breakout role for our now-dear Carey Mulligan. A solid entry into the Hornby canon.
#2 About A Boy
I really, really like this movie. It’s rare in that it truly focuses on the relationship between a man named Will (Hugh Grant) and boy named Marcus (a young and chubby Nicholas Hoult). Although a romantic relationship for Will does happen in the end, it doesn’t succumb to rom-com tropes — really, what we see is a unique friendship which helps both parties grow in their own right, and as a unit.
As an added bonus, Toni Collette delivers a heartbreaking performance as Marcus’ mom.
About A Boy is now being made into a sitcom, which pains me (Minnie Driver is playing the Toni Colette part, and it looks like they’re setting up a romance between her character and Will, because everything is bad). But the movie will always have a place in my heart.
#1 High Fidelity
I mean, come on. High Fidelity is GOLD. John Cusack back when he was the John Cusack we all loved, plus Jack Black singing “Let’s Get It On,” plus a young Catherine Zeta-Jones? This is what I talk about when I talk about good rom-coms. This is a near-perfect movie.
“Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?” Classic.
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