A comedy “Definitely,” romantic “Maybe”
Of the four romantic comedies that have recently been thrust upon the eager legions of willing Valentines victims “Definitely, Maybe” definitely is the best of the bunch. (Leaving “27 Dresses,” “Over Her Dead Body,’ and “Fool’s Gold,” as the also-rans.)
Interestingly enough, “Definitely” isn’t all that romantic and its humor is subtle by design yet it avoids the sappy trappings of its formula and gives us witty dialogue from characters that are also more complex than this genre normally provides.
Most surprising of all is Ryan Reynolds who comes out of nowhere (sort-of –“Van Wilder” and some TV stuff) to portray Will Hayes an early 30s soon to be divorced Manhattan yuppie. The story demands he tell his inquisitive 11-year old daughter Maya (Abigail Breslin who once again effortlessly sparkles as she did in “Little Miss Sunshine”) the story of how he met her mother. Early scenes contain some sexually provocative discussion between father and daughter that fortunately subsides. Will proceeds to keep his daughter (and the audience) at bay by telling a somewhat complicated (and amazingly detailed) story of his three loves, whose names he changes- Emily, the college sweetheart (Elizabeth Banks), Summer, the sharp career-minded journalist (Rachel Weisz) and free spirited platonic friend April (Isla Fisher). While all three performances are terrific, one in particular is delightfully intoxicating but shouldn’t be disclosed for spoiler reasons.
While it may appear that the film’s conceit is to keep the audience guessing who our unlucky in love protagonist will ultimately choose, even if one correctly surmises, the journey is filled with quietly humorous and engaging moments. The film avoids the harder plot resolution of how to reconcile Maya’s need to have her parents get back together but that’s not the film’s objective. The film even works in Will’s stint during the Clinton campaign years with some refreshing nostalgia while avoiding heavy handed political sentiment. A cameo by Kevin Kline as an erudite author adds to the film’s uncommon savvy for this better than average rom-com.
Rated PG-13 for frank sexual language and humor, scattered profanity, brief drug references, implied sex.