I’ve seen a lot of very good movies during the past couple months, but aside from “Juno,” most of these movies have been chronically deficient in the humor and levity departments.
So, for those of you who need a break from the serious-minded Oscar nominees, but who refuse to see “Fool’s Gold,” there’s “Definitely, Maybe,” a romantic comedy from the studio behind “Bridget Jones’s Diary” and “Notting Hill.”
“Definitely, Maybe” isn’t as good as those British romantic comedies, but it’s entertaining, funny and it contains a charismatic performance from Ryan Reynolds-all of which makes the film a nice, middlebrow bit of escapism.
Reynolds stars as a newly-divorced dad Will Hayes, an adman who is bored by his job, but who loves his daughter Maya (Abigail Breslin).
Maya, however, wants to know about her dad’s romantic past-a story Will has yet to share with her. Eventually, he relinquishes, but he refuses to tell Maya which of the young women that he dated ended up being her mother.
“Definitely, Maybe” unfolds mostly in flashbacks, as Will recounts the complicated history of his love life, which includes three serious relationships with three very different women.
First, there’s Emily (Elizabeth Banks), Will’s college sweetheart and fiancé, who is worried that his decision to work on Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign in New York City will mean the end of their relationship.
Then there’s Summer (Rachel Weisz), a sharp-witted journalism student who was Emily’s former roommate.
And finally there’s April (Isla Fisher), an independent-minded young woman Will meets while working on Clinton’s campaign.
Which one of these women is Maya’s mother, and which one does Will end up with? I’m not about to spoil the outcome for you.
I will say, however, that even as a veteran of many romantic comedies, I was a little surprised by who Will ends up with, mostly because Emily, Summer and April all appeal to different aspects of Will’s personality; in other words, none of them “complete” him, to borrow a phrase from “Jerry Maguire.” Nevertheless, this surprise does not derail the film for me.
The success of “Definitely, Maybe” is rooted in Reynolds’ performance. He plays Will as charming and self-deprecating, but also endearing.
It’s a surprising turn, considering Reynolds has starred in clunkers like “Van Wilder,” and “Just Friends,” but he acquits himself well, especially in his scenes with Breslin.
The film is occasionally unfocused, as it shifts among Will’s various relationships, and the script underutilizes talented actors like Kevin Kline (who plays Emily’s cynical and lecherous thesis advisor) and Derek Luke.
But for the most part, “Definitely, Maybe” is an entertaining, if not particularly inventive, addition to the romantic comedy canon.