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{random film-ness} A Favorite Holiday Film Moment: About a Boy

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One of my favorite Christmas movie moments comes at the end of the lovely 2002 comedy About a Boy. The film is directed by the Weitz brothers, who are responsible for American Pie together and films like A Better Life (Chris) and Being Flynn (Paul) separately. It’s based on a fantastic book by Nick Hornby, which you really should read. The film stars Hugh Grant, Toni Collette and Nicholas Hoult (who has since grown up, become terrifyingly handsome and now dates Jennifer Lawrence), and I’ve loved it since it came out. But it took on greater meaning for me a couple years ago.

One cold afternoon in December of 2010, I signed my divorce papers. The signing itself was a remarkably anti-climactic experience for such a heart-breaking process. My ex and I signed separately; I scrawled my signature a couple times at a busy office. I had to consciously remind myself to end my pen with my maiden name and not continue on to the name I was leaving behind. Then I walked home to my suddenly-single-girl apartment. I had no idea what to do with myself.

Until I remembered what I always do when I didn’t know what to do: Watch a movie.

I didn’t know why I reached for About a Boy until I got to the final scene. Then it became clear why I needed to see that exact movie on that exact day. Marcus, the titular boy, reflects on the holiday gathering happening at his house, stuffed full with a bunch of dissimilar people he managed to stitch together into a makeshift family. And this is what Marcus says:

“Suddenly I realized: Two people isn’t enough. You need backup. If you’re only two people, and someone drops off the edge, then you’re on your own. Two isn’t a large enough number. You need three at least.”

I laughed in recognition. And cried a little, too. At that exact moment I knew I was going to be OK. I may have lost the person I thought was my “one,” but I had gained a remarkably large circle of supportive friends during the difficult past year and had become closer with my family, too. Marcus reminded me that I needed to thank them and to invest in their lives, just as they had given to mine. I had my “three at least.” In fact, I had around fifteen or so, all told, which sure beats “the one” any day.

And here I find myself, two Decembers later, still marveling at my “three at least.” My amazing parents have spent the winter making the six-hour round trip on weekends to help me with house projects. I’m celebrating the holidays with a good portion of my incredible friends, who have taught me so much about love and faith and hope…and will no doubt continue to do so. And I’m looking forward to an upcoming girls’ weekend with my twin sis and two might-as-well-be-my-sisters-too cousins.

I am so thankful for my ever-widening “three at least,” and for the movie that nudged me to be grateful for them, right when I needed to be reminded. That’s why I love good films. In 90 minutes, they get me to Big Realizations that might take me nine months to get to on my own.

So I’m wishing you and your “three at least” very happy holidays, full of light and love and movie-insights. Hug somebody. Thank them. And then reach for a good movie, whydoncha?

What’s your favorite holiday movie moment?

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Sarah Magill

Sarah Magill has a full-time movie habit made possible by a day-time greeting card writing gig. She blogs at Gimme Some Film and is learning to write scripts and direct. She tries to balance her screen obsession with trail running, jazz singing, book clubbing, and hanging out with The Best Golden Retriever Ever, Copa.

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4 comments on “{random film-ness} A Favorite Holiday Film Moment: About a Boy”

  1. Beautifully written and bravely lived. I count it a complete joy to be part of your “three at least”. :)

  2. Well written and insightful. We often think of movies as just 90 minutes of entertainment. Most represent the collaborative best efforts of hundreds of very talented people sharing what they hope to be a BEST story. Lionel Richie says that for any song to be successful, there has to be a hook …one great line or one great riff. I think that is true of movies too. You captured that hook with “three at least”.

    • Totally agree! I’m always looking for that hook in films and get a little disappointed if they don’t have one. Movies are so much more than just zoning out for 90 minutes…I think they are one of the most difficult art forms to pull off. So glad so many talented people attempt them nevertheless!