Starring: Hugh Grant, Nicholas Hoult, Toni Collette, Rachel Weisz, Isabel Brooke, Victoria Smurfit Directors: Chris Weitz and Paul Weitz The film: Hugh Grant could well have saved his faltering career with this likeable comedy-drama. He is well cast as 38-year-old Londoner Will Freeman ('free man', get it?), a self-absorbed waster whose shallow existence is brought into sharp focus by the connection he makes with troubled 12-year-old Marcus (Nicholas Hoult, right, with Collette and Grant). After years of egotistism, Marcus puts Will in touch with his warm, caring inner-self. And it's all achieved with few of the cliches we've come to expect from such tales. That's largely because Grant plays it straight, letting the script and his role as narrator do the work for him (worryingly, he confesses in the 'Making of' featurette that his real persona is uncannily close to the mercenary man-child he portrays). But Will is a positive move away from the bumbling fop that was his stock-in-trade before he stepped out as the cartoonish love-rat in Bridget Jones's Diary. He is an amalgam of both, and all the more believable for it. On paper, About A Boy reads like an exercise in transatlantic demographics; produced by the same team that made Bridget Jones's Diary, from the directors of gross-out smash, American Pie, based on the best-selling book by Nick Hornby. It couldn't fail, right? Well it did in the United States, and not surprisingly. Kitchen-sink drama/comedies, no matter how well designed the sinks, are hardly box-office material over the pond. About A Boy did, however, do brisk business in Europe, where the subtleties of script and setting struck a sympathetic tone. And despite some major plot detours from the book, the film deals intelligently with weighty issues (suicide, single parenthood and the dangers of mindless consumerism). A cracking soundtrack from Badly Drawn Boy wraps it all into a neat little package. The extras: Few high points here. A feature-length audio commentary from the directors is a dry walk through the film-making process and strictly for fans. The 'Spotlight on Location: Making of About A Boy' offers 11 minutes of interviews with writer Hornby, Grant and other cast and crew. While the deleted scenes are mostly extended versions of existing takes and downright boring (although slightly more interesting with the commentary in which the brothers Weitz pillory themselves). Presented in the expected anamorphic transfer in the theatrical 2.35:1 aspect ratio, it is a consistent but never sparkling reproduction, but that's understandable given the muted view of London they were looking for. The verdict: You'll be charmed, I'm sure.