Opens Feb. 14, 2008. Run time: 1 hr. 52 min.
|for sexual content, including some frank dialogue, language and smoking|
Will Hayes is a 30-something Manhattan dad in the midst of a divorce when his 10-year-old daughter, Maya, starts to question him about his life before marriage. Maya wants to know absolutely everything about how her parents met and fell in love. Will's story begins in 1992, as a young, starry-eyed aspiring politician who moves to New York from Wisconsin in order to work on the presidential campaign. For Maya, Will relives his past as an idealistic young man learning the ins and outs of big city politics, and recounts the history of his romantic relationships with three very different women. Will hopelessly attempts a gentler version of his story for his daughter and changes the names so Maya has to guess which woman her father finally married.
Is her mother Will's college sweetheart, the dependable girl next door Emily? Is she his longtime best friend and confidante, the apolitical April? Or, is she the free-spirited but ambitious journalist Summer? As Maya puts together the pieces of her dad's romantic puzzle, she begins to understand that love is not so simple or easy. And as Will tells her his tale, Maya helps him to understand that it's definitely never too late to go back... and maybe even possible to find a happy ending.
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If guys' harshest punishment this Valentine's Day is being dragged to see Definitely, Maybe, they're getting off pretty easy, thanks in large part to Ryan Reynolds. Story If Will Hayes (Ryan Reynolds) didn't have such a smart, intuitive and inquisitive young daughter (Abigail Breslin), there might've been no Definitely, Maybe. It is she who demands the unabridged story of who her mother is and how she met Will, a story that dates all the way back to 1992 and involves a trio of women. It begins as a classic bolting-for-the-big-city tale when Will accepts a job on the Bill Clinton campaign in Manhattan, leaving behind his college sweetheart Emily (Elizabeth Banks) in Madison, Wisconsin. Slowly but surely, Will falls for the city and two of its women in particular: Summer (Rachel Weisz), Emily's scholarly college friend who is emotionally and romantically unavailable and thus irresistible to Will, and April (Isla Fisher), an edgy, apolitical copy girl who works with Will at the Clinton campaign office.
So begins Will's three-woman conundrum, which isn't necessarily solved by the time he finishes telling his daughter the story. Acting Is there a more consistently surprising actor out there than Ryan Reynolds? Once known only for his sophomoric comedies that appealed to sophomoric viewers, the actor has drastically changed his career for the better recently. He's done horror (The Amityville Horror) and action (Smokin' Aces) in the past couple years, and now his most surprising genre: romantic comedy. In Reynolds' best performance to date, he is natural, charismatic (duh!) and clearly capable of shedding his sarcasm for the sake of a more grown-up, even vulnerable, character. Without a doubt, he is leading-man material.
As for the three actresses who play Reynolds' love interests, they can pretty much do no wrong. Fisher (Wedding Crashers), especially, shines as multi-layered, complicated NYC-girl-next-door April. Weisz, meanwhile, is a perfect fit (when is she not?) as the intellectual and slightly mischievous Summer, and Banks (Slither) again shows why she's pigeonholed in the girlfriend role--in a good way. In supporting roles, Kevin Kline and Derek Luke (Antwone Fisher) are hilarious and dead-on, respectively. And finally, Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine), in a small but crucial role, is infectiously energetic for such a tired, clichéd character.
Direction If Definitely, Maybe does have a downfall or make a concession, it falls within writer-director Adam Brooks' (Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, Wimbledon) screenplay. While the dialogue is unconventionally sharp for a romantic comedy, the story takes a hard turn towards predictability in the second half, undoing the inventiveness displayed early on. And the all-too-convenient fact that Will changes the names of the three women when he's telling his daughter the story, so she--and we--can't unlock the maternity mystery, is the ultimate gimmick. But as a director, Brooks, who has been working primarily as a screenwriter for over two decades, shows a lot of promise. The fact is, despite ending disappointingly, Definitely, Maybe is a refreshing, relatable antidote to most of today's rom-coms.
And even though that's thanks partly to the strong performances, strong performances are often thanks partly to a solid director, like Brooks. Bottom Line Hollywood.com rated this film 2 1/2 stars.-Brian Marder.
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