Definitely a maybe on the to-see list. Not sugary enough to capture the hearts of the true romantic comedy fanatic and not edgy enough to entertain their reluctant boyfriends, Definitely Maybe is another love heart in Working Titles never-ending sweet shop of mediocre rom-coms.
Will Hayes( Ryan Reynolds) is a bored advertising executive in the middle of a divorce. The only good thing that he has in life is his ten year old daughter Maya. As Maya struggles to come to terms with her parents separation she bullies her father into telling her the story of how he met her mother. In order to make the story more interesting Will keeps the names of the three most prominent women in it a secret and asks Maya to guess which one will turn out to be the one he marries. As Will outlines the twists and turns of his relationships with these three women, Maya catches a glimpse of her parents youth in a world where Clinton has yet to come to power.
Its a plausible and interesting tale of one mans attempt to work out who and what is right for him and it looks honestly at the problems and confusions that any relationship faces. However it fails to push these issues far enough and comes out looking a little like a watered down, sugar coated version of Closer with a happy ending thrown in to appease any tensions it may have raised. It explores difficult issues with one eye, and rose tints them with the other.
Even Abigail Breslin, the podgy misfit who won our hearts in Little Miss Sunshine , fails to shine as the inquisitive and bright young Maya. Director Adam Brooks presumably cast her in an effort to cash in on her popularity as the quirky kid but has utterly failed to notice that her unique brand of humour is entirely lost in translation when she is transported out of the hapless but caring family unit and thrust into a mediocre middle class home with a well groomed, neat looking Ryan Reynolds playing Dad. Suddenly out of place in her air-brushed family, Abigail becomes slightly annoying and fairly tedious. Its quite a transformation and it has taken some pretty poor direction to get her there.
Rachel Weisz fairs much better as the arty and free spirited Summer. She proves her acting prowess with an entirely believable and intelligent performance which remains understated where it could easily have become clichd. Isla Fisher also comes off well as the thoughtful and witty April who is full of promise and procrastination. She proves her versatility with a move away from the ditzy redhead of The Wedding Crashers and brings a dimension of emotion to her role which is too often lacking in romantic comedy.
Definitely Maybe is brave in many ways. It breaks a few basic rules of romantic comedy, from focusing on a male point of view to following three leading ladies, only one of whom can have a happy ending. It makes an interesting push for a more versatile genre. It also has some masterful references to recent politics and social changes scattered through its more tawdry scenes. For a while Will Hayes life takes on an intelligent parallel with his idol Bill Clintons as he shoots to success only to find that it comes with its own unique pitfalls.
However, all this bravery and intelligence does not do enough to save the film and Definitely Maybe looks set to become another shoulder shrug film available two for one in the next Virgin records sale. It is neither a waste of money nor a must see. It will keep you entertained for two hours but it fails to dig deep into any real emotion. The use of the cute ten year old kid of the moment in the shape of Abigail Breslin falls flat, the twists and turns of the plot keep you guessing but arent really sturdy enough to make you care one way or the other, and the final romantic climax is disappointing as by that point its hard to care which of these three women Will ends up with. All in all its a definite maybe.