Is ‘About a Boy’ Doomed to Fail?

About a Boy, TV ShowNBC

Adaptations are a crapshoot. Some are doomed from conception, like a live-action musical based on Spider-Man. Others are shocking successes, like the 11-season classicM*A*S*H. However, in recent history, very few movie-into-television adaptations have worked. So why, might you ask, is someone trying to re-make the popular 2002 film About a Boy?

Twelve years ago, the comedy film was born itself as an adaptation a of the successful Nick Hornby book. It stars Hugh Grant as a wealthy man-child who lies about having a son to impress women. He befriends Marcus (Nicholas Hoult), a boy with an overbearing flighty mother (Toni Collette). Over time, the man and boy teach each other.

Now, we have a new television series version of About a Boy, developed by Jason Katims, who worked on Friday Night Lights and developed Parenthood (there seems to be a trend in Katims’ projects). But despite his prior success, this show seems doomed to fail.

Comedy series have had a majorly difficult time recreating the success of films. We choose not to remember Jennifer Aniston’s turn in the regrettable Ferris Bueller sitcom. Sandra Bullock started a short-lived television career as the lead in a Working Girl remake. Party Girl was an adaptation of a cult-indie film starring Parker Posey. It starred Christine Taylor, Swoosie Kurtz, and John Cameron Mitchell. And it just doesn’t work. One exception from the era is Clueless, which was more a television sequel and included a bulk of the original cast and the film’s creator. It also only survived by moving to a syndicated network. 

There are a few anomalies of successful remakes like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but that series was reworked almost entirely by creator Joss Wehdon. Rather than settling on remake form, Buffy had the priveledge of being the original material Whedon intended to create with his film. Friday Night LightsParenthood, and La Femme Nikita also all found television success, but as dramas, adapting different tones than their source material. The About a Boy adaptation seems to be veering dangerously close to the original with a few slight changes to account for the translation to American audiences. 

Not only does the show have one strike against it automatically with being an adaptation, but the cast includes people with a ton of failed series on their resumes. Are they cursed? Minnie Driver is an amazing actress, but the last time she headlined a series, The Riches, it did not live long. David Walton and Leslie Bibb have also had a string of failed series launches including Perfect Couples and GCB, respectively. 

From the series trailer, it looks like multiple moments from the film will be worked into the series. It’s tough to not notice the great source material being repurposed for 30-minute episodes. Of course, the series may shock everyone and rewrite rules for TV remakes. It may create a golden age of television series (*based on movies). Or audiences could check out the film, available at most DVD bargain bins.

If you had any doubts check out the trailer for the series vs. the original.

Spoiler alert: anything you don’t get from the movie trailer you can gloss from the TV series promo. 

Movie Trailer

TV Promo