"Definitely, Maybe" might be a decent movie

Feb. 19, 2008, midnight | By Sean Howard | 14 years, 3 months ago

Director Adam Brooks brings a rare, palatable chick-flick

There are two kinds of people that go see chick flicks: the emotional kind who can already tell if they will be moved to tears just by the previews and the other kind, innocents dragged there by said emotional people. Fortunately, "Definitely, Maybe" is armed with a realistic and highly original plot that will satisfy both camps.

The story revolves around Will Hayes (Ryan Reynolds), a soon-to-be-divorced man whose job it is "to convince kids to buy 'Capn Crunch' cereal instead of 'Fruit Loops.'" One day, Hayes goes to pick up his daughter Maya (Abigail Breslin) from school, only to find the scene in pandemonium. As it turns out, sex education was taught that day at school and it has left his ten year old daughter very curious as to whether or not she was a mistake. Hayes quickly assures her that she was "completely on purpose" and that he knew exactly what he was getting himself into. Although reassured, Maya continues to hound him over the details of his personal life in the past 16 years. Eventually, Hayes relents and tells her the story, changing names so she would not know who her mother is in the narrative. The tale goes that while working on the campaign for Bill Clinton, Hayes gets himself tied up with three women, a supposedly reliable college sweetheart whom he calls "Emily" (Elizabeth Banks), an ambitious journalist named Summer Hartley (Rachel Weisz) and free spirit, April Hoffman (Isla Fisher).

The rest of the story is told much the same style as the Princess Bride with a dash of "How I Met Your Mother" thrown in, with the narrator, Hayes, and the scene being in another time and place. The story is occasionally paused for Maya to ask such relevant questions such as "What's a threesome?" for Hayes to answer strategically, "It's a game, that adults play sometimes...when they're bored."

While this film's plot is very original, the movie as a whole is pulled down by its inability to give the actors more than cliched roles. For example, April seems to be a free spirit only because she works as a copy-girl and is bored at work. Given Fisher's more impressive roles in such movies as "Wedding Crashers" or "The Lookout", this role seems a clear waste of talent.

Oddly enough, the only actor that manages to not get bogged down in the stereotypes is Weisz. Despite the fact that her role is the most dull, that of a career woman, she not only brings the best acting and most complexity to the movie, but manages to be so good that she practically steals the show from under the feet of Reynolds and Breslin's father-daughter dynamic.

Throughout the movie, there are some lines worth remembering and plenty bland performances, but there isn't much room to laugh. Although the characters are witty, this is not a romantic comedy. It's a movie about connections with other people, it's about the funny inevitability of fate, no matter how far you drift or run away, you will somehow find a way back to certain people because they formed your existence. "Definitely, Maybe " is most easily qualified as an odd chick-flick for an aspiring couple but it is definitely a film worth noting.

"Definitely, Maybe" (112 min) is Rated PG-13 for sexual content, including some frank dialogue, language and smoking. It is now playing in theaters everywhere.

Sean Howard. There is a spy among us and his name is Sean Howard. Originally from Dallas, Texas, Sean moved to Germantown prior to his current residence in Gaithersburg. Although he has now lived in Maryland for most of his life, he has retained his loyalty to … More »

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