***1/2 (out of 5)
February 14, 2008
Ryan Reynolds as WILL HAYES
Abigail Breslin as MAYA HAYES
Elizabeth Banks as EMILY
Isla Fisher as APRIL
Rachel Weisz as SUMMER HARTLEY
Directed by: Adam Brooks
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
This Valentine’s Day, you get three love stories for the price of one. In “Definitely, Maybe,” Ryan Reynolds stars as Will Hayes, a soon-to-be-divorced dad. His precocious daughter Maya (Abigail Breslin) pesters him into telling her the story of how he met her mother.
Instead of just rattling off a fairy-tale-like story, Will mixes things up, telling Maya about his three main girlfriends over the years. One of them is her mother, and she has to guess who it is. Through a series of flashbacks, we watch his life as a Democratic campaign worker who falls in love with his long-time girlfriend Emily (Elizabeth Banks), the free-spirited April (Isla Fisher) and the sophisticated and sultry Summer (Rachel Weisz).
Taking a unique perspective on the romantic comedy, “Definitely, Maybe” rides on the shoulders of its cast. If it were cast differently – say with Dane Cook, Dakota Fanning, Beyonce, Jessica Simpson and Paris Hilton – this movie would be an absolute disaster.
Much of the support must go to Reynolds, who is entirely likeable on screen and has managed in his career to play everything from the scoundrel (e.g., “Van Wilder”) to the action hero (e.g., “Blade Trinity”) to the affable and loveable nice guy in this film. However, he is generous enough in his acting to let the stars also be the girls involved.
The casting of the three would-be mothers is spot-on as well. For years, Elizabeth Banks has been the Hollywood sweetheart, and she’s perfect for the basic girlfriend back home. Isla Fisher is simply adorable as the New Yorker who captures Will’s heart. And Rachel Weisz also works as the woman of the world that dominates Will.
At times, when the film flashes back to Will and Maya as he tells her the story, it seems out of place. Of course, Breslin rules the screen in these scenes, and it kept me wanting to see more of her. She’s a perfect actress for this, not being too cute but being completely lovable on screen. Unfortunately, the schtick works against itself by making the story a little too busy with the flashbacks.
There are also plenty of cheesy moments, especially as we roll on into the ending where Maya is trying to get her dad to be with one of his loves. Like the busy moments of the movie flashing back and forth from present to past, this ending makes the film run a little long. However, if you’re into the whole romantic comedy game, you’re gonna love this drawn-out love story.
Compared to “27 Dresses” (which I thought was only okay) and “Fool’s Gold” (which was a little more enjoyable, but not for the actors necessarily), “Definitely, Maybe” is a much smarter and winsome movie. It’s not too over-the-top, and I never lost sympathy for the characters… even if Will Hayes was an ardent Bill Clinton supporter. Still, with so movies delving into politics, I was impressed that they managed to skip the liberal idealism and show the messy world of politics with all of its foibles.
The question is whether “Definitely, Maybe” is the perfect date movie for Valentine’s Day weekend. The answer: definitely… maybe… but whatever the case, you can win yourself some points and not be too bored when you take your wife or girlfriend out to the pictures this week.