- Rated PG-13
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All photos © Universal Pictures
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
Ryan Reynolds stars as Will Hayes, a 30-something advertising executive who, on the night of receiving his divorce papers, is coerced by his 10-year-old daughter Maya (Abigail Breslin) into telling the story of how he met her mother. Changing the names of the three women involved, Will then leaves it up to Maya to figure out who he ended up marrying. Beginning in 1992, the story spans six years as Will leaves his hometown of Madison, Wisconsin – along with college sweetheart Emily (Elizabeth Banks) – to take a job as a volunteer for the Clinton campaign in New York City. It’s there that he meets April (Isla Fisher) and Summer (Rachel Weisz), and as the story of Will’s relationships with all three women begin to intertwine, Maya comes one step closer to figuring out which one is her mother and, inadvertently, why nothing in life is as simple as it seems.
Writer/director Adam Brooks may not have a great track record when it comes to the romantic comedy genre, but he’s certainly making up for it with his latest directorial effort. Just like “Love Actually” did a few years back, “Definitely, Maybe” works simply because it’s nothing like the conventional rom-com. Gender roles have been switched, the plot is disguised as a mystery, and for once, it doesn’t assume that the audience is a bunch of dim-witted idiots. In fact, the film’s only major problem is that Brooks gets so caught up in including every twist ending that he loses track of how long it’s actually taking to wrap up. Had he been able to trim the edges even more, “Definitely, Maybe” would have been that much better.
For the record, though, the movie’s still very good, and much of that can be attributed to it’s fantastic cast. Reynolds, in particular, is incredibly charming as the film’s lead, and after nearly a decade of roles that showcased him as sarcastic and overly confident, his turn as Will Hayes is anything but. It’s definitely a turning point in the actor’s career, and one that not only marks his maturation as an actor, but as a potential A-list star as well. Of course, it also helps when you’re romantic co-stars include Rachel Weisz, Elizabeth Banks and Isla Fisher, and while the latter delivers the best performance of the three, it’s Little Miss Sunshine herself, Abigail Breslin, who comes out on top. Currently giving Freddie Highmore a run for his money as the Cutest Kid on the Planet, Breslin’s sweet-natured curiosity is what keeps the movie feeling fresh – despite the fact that her role is almost as limited as Kevin Kline’s, who stops by for an extended cameo as the older lover of Weisz' character.
It’s hard to deny the charm behind a movie like “Definitely, Maybe.” It’s never overly mushy and, with the exception of an opening credits sequence featuring some especially stupid narration, rarely cheesy. The concept alone makes for a more interesting tale, but it's Reynolds' ability to cater to the tastes of both sexes that ultimately makes this a romantic comedy worth checking out. Forget any reservation you might have: this is definitely one Valentine’s Day date you won’t regret.
Single-Disc DVD Review:
Romantic comedies are rarely ripe with special features, but that didn't effect my desire for more from the single-disc release of “Definitely, Maybe." Perhaps it’s because the material that is included feels so half-assed. The audio commentary with writer/director Adam Brooks and star Ryan Reynolds is spotty, the making-of featurette is generic (and apparently sponsored by Volkswagen), the other production featurette (“The Changing Times of Definitely, Maybe”) is over before it even begins, and the deleted scenes are cute, but unnecessary.