Back Rowe Reviews
Real Time Movie Reviews from the Back Row of a Theater

Definitely, Maybe (PG-13)

Directed by: Adam Brooks
Starring: Ryan Reynolds
February 2008

“You Must Choose, But Choose Wisely!”

A father tells his inquisitive daughter the story of how he met her mother.

When the usual bedtime story fails to captivate precocious preteen, Mya (Abigail Breslin), she coerces her father, Will (Ryan Reynolds), into regaling the story of how he fell in love with her mother. The movie unspools in a series of flashback vignettes which introduce us to three of Will’s old flames: Emily (Elizabeth Banks), April (Isla Fisher) and Summer (Rachel Weisz). Will renames the women to make his story more of a mystery, but Mya, obviously, knows who her mother is. However, one of the movie’s inherent thrills is that we in the audience are kept guessing who mommy is until the very end, and even then, there’s a significant twist before the movie fades to black.

Creative Contributions:
Looking at the film from a production standpoint, the first thing that stands out is the remarkable cast. Breslin is her normal, adorable self, but it’s Reynolds who steals the show with his disarming sarcasm and charming brand of helplessness. Will’s three, pitch-perfect paramours are simply smoking, especially Weisz, who’s come a long way from the geeky librarian in The Mummy. Honorable mention (and Oscar consideration) goes to Kevin Kline for his colorful portrayal of book-writing boozer, Hampton Roth. Hampton’s torrid love affair with his student, Summer, takes a strange twist when she falls in love with Will; the ensuing love triangle further muddies the waters with respect to Will’s ultimate choice for a mate. Besides relational matters, the movie’s political commentary is also engaging. Overly idealistic and highly opinionated Will starts off as a lackey at Bill Clinton’s campaign headquarters and eventually works his way up to a power position by the president’s second term. Will’s progression from ambitious upstart to disillusioned sideliner makes for a fascinating character study.

My initial reaction to the trailer for Definitely, Maybe was “Maybe, If I Must.” However, the film is a superior love story because it doesn’t constrain itself to the standard conventions of the genre: faux pas, awkward moments, startling revelations, relational gags, etc. The performances are all outstanding and writer/director Adam Brooks’ first-rate script is wildly entertaining and highly provocative—think of Definitely, Maybe as the perfect marriage between a chick flick and a Woody Allen dramedy. The end result here is far superior to other recent romance films and is definitely worth seeing.

Rating: 3