DEFINITELY, MAYBE

PG_13, 112 min, 2008

Director: Adam Brooks
Writer: Adam Brooks
Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Rachel Weisz, Abigail Breslin

Definitely, Maybe is a (slightly) off-beat “love-story/mystery” – and one of the more charming romantic comedies of recent years – and it pulls off a neat trick for a modern film of its type: it seems to focus more on character than jokes, and as a result is more enjoyable than “traditional” romantic comedies.

Ryan Reynolds stars as Will Hayes, a thirtysomething who once campaigned for Bill Clinton in the 1992 election. When his young daughter Mya (Abigail Breslin, growing rapidly since Little Miss Sunshine) learns about sexual intercourse in school, she asks how her dad met her mother. His response? “It’s complicated.”

This results in an elongated series of flashbacks in which we see Will with various loves in his life (the names have been changed to remain mysterious for his daughter) – Emily (Elisabeth Banks), the Madison, Wisconsin high school sweetheart who asks Will to return her ex-roommate’s diary to her; then there’s the roommate, the unlikely named Summer Hartley (Rachel Weisz), a sexually vivacious young journalist who is sleeping with her thesis advisor (a surprising Kevin Kline). Finally, there’s April (Isla Fisher), the “friend who realizes she wants to be the girlfriend.” Who is Mya’s mother and how did they and Will meet?

There’s a point around the final half-hour of this close to 120 minute film where we’re wondering if he can’t just get on with it and tell her, but the ride is enjoyable. I liked Breslin in a supporting role as the daughter, and Reynolds is likable as a soon-to-be divorced father who is loving and kind to his daughter.

Give writer-director Adam Brooks credit for crafting a screenplay which manages (if only most of the time) not to feel like a standard sitcom. The results are uncommonly intelligent and thoughtful.

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