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In "Definitely, Maybe," Will Hayes (Ryan Reynolds) is a single dad
whose young daughter (Abigail Breslin) insists that he make like
Sheherazade and relate the tales of his former lovers so she can decide
which of them is most likely to be her mother (think of it as a "Mamma
Mia" in reverse). The potential candidates include Emily (Elizabeth
Banks), his longtime girlfriend when he lived in Wisconsin; April (Isla
Fisher), an apolitical Kurt Cobain and "Jane Eyre" freak; and Summer
(Rachel Weisz), a magazine writer and friend of Emily. Thus, after an
intro set in the present, the movie turns back the clock to 1992 when
Hayes, then an aspiring politician, moved from Wisconsin to New York
City to work on the first Clinton presidential campaign. It is there
that he meets April and Summer (though May and Autumn fail to make an
Although the "Who's my mommy?" premise makes absolutely no sense whatsoever in the context of the story, "Definitely, Maybe" is still a cut or two above your average romantic comedy thanks to a screenplay by director Adam Brooks that generally respects the intelligence of its audience and to an appealing performance by Reynolds who carries the film with his easygoing demeanor and charm. The actresses all turn in fine performances as well, although Breslin occasionally sets the teeth on edge with her precocity and calculated cuteness (luckily, she's not on screen all that much). And as an extra added bonus, the movie offers up one of the snazziest and jazziest title sequences in recent memory.
The movie does get the year wrong on the Monica Lewinsky scandal (identifying it as 1997 instead of 1998), but the references to the politics of the '90s that continuously play out in the background are fun for those who look back with fondness and nostalgia on what now seems to be a more halcyon era.
When I rented this movie, I wasn't expecting much. I was actually surprised by the difference this movie has compared to other romantic comedies. The actors weren't so bad. Isla Fischer is absolutely adorable, and Ryan Reynolds' skills really surprised me, since I haven't seen very many movies that he actually looks sincere when delivering his lines. I liked the twist that he was explaining this story to his daughter, rather than just watching him live in life in the present. It was something I hadn't seen in other movies, and I love originality. If you're looking for a feel-good movie, or something to watch on a Saturday night, this is your pick. But if you never get around to watching it, it's not going to change your life if you don't.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I would likely have never seen this film if it hadn't been on cable. So
for me it was a bit of serendipity to find it. The short description in
the guide said "Divorcing dad Ryan Reynolds tells his daughter of his
romantic past". Since I am a divorced dad with a daughter I thought I'd
give it a shot. No, there aren't parallels between the events in this
film and my own life. But it is a good story and I liked trying to
figure out which of the women was the girls mother. I got it wrong of
course which made it that much more enjoyable. The little girl is
precocious which makes it enjoyable. And she is at that age where daddy
can do no wrong. I don't know if eleven is the right age to tell a
young daughter all that he told her. But, the time to tell children
what they want to know is often when they ask.
At some point I was hoping that her father and mother would get back together but of course that wasn't going to happen. In modern films that is never the case. But it is nice that the girl is a romantic at heart and really loves her dad and wants him to be happy.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Yes, it's dangerously close to sappy and yes, it's fairly predictable
but in a way you want it to be. From an artistic point of view it'd be
great if after ninety minutes he suddenly gets hit by a bus or less
dramatic if he just stayed alone and relatively happy. In some ways the
bittersweet ending would've been more classy but for the sake of the
warm fuzziness it'd be a disaster. 'Definitely, Maybe' will never be a
great work of art simply because of the room for improvement still is
too large. I bumping into these sort of scripts over and over again,
why didn't the writers go that extra mile? A darn shame, it's not like
you have to rewrite half a script to make it much better, just some
minor imperfections needed to be worked out (well, some big ones too
but I'll keep it positive).
'Definitely, Maybe' is a romantic comedy about Will Hayes (Ryan Reynolds) and how he fell in love. It all starts when the ambitious fresh out of college Will decides to move to the Big Apple causing him and long time girlfriend 'Emily' ( Elizabeth Banks) to drift apart, leading them to a painful and inevitable moment where 'Emily' drops the bombshell that she cheated on him and wants to 'set him free for his own good' (quote), all this shortly after Will's wedding proposal. (It's getting wonderfully complicated already isn't it?) At that moment, Will realizes that life is not the happy fun roller-coaster ride he thought it'd be and that his search for true love may never find a happy ending. We follow him through the highs and lows of his relationships with 3 different women, as he narrates the story to his ten year old daughter. Every time when Will meets one his big loves, he's sure it's the ever enduring love great novels were made of, but destiny may have something else in store for him. Love throws more than a few curve-balls and it seems our cheerful fairytale may not get a happy ending...
As you probably already figured out, the story is told in retrospect, which opens up a wide array of possibilities for the scriptwriters. Big time leaps become easy to insert, romanticizing of details is allowed - seeing that we are told a memory, not a fact - and the fact alone that the narrative is so unusual makes the story all the more intriguing and exciting for the audience. Not all of those possibilities are used as effectively or fully as they could've been. Just make the comparison with the TV-show with an almost identical premise namely How I Met Your Mother. One of the things that makes that show in question the highest quality comedy sitcom of the moment, is the cleverness put into the writing. In that show, the main character Ted tells his kids the story of how he met their mother, the audience gets to guess which one the mother will be. Of course, we get sidetracked in other unrelated events concerning the other characters, but still the main theme remains Ted's quest for love. To give you an example of the creative use of the narrative perspective, there's an episode where - seeing that Ted can't give a bad example for his kids - he keeps saying 'fudge' instead of the actual f-word and 'gringe' instead of...well that's kept up to the audience's imagination :-). Other examples include him telling one thing, meanwhile we get to see the exact opposite thing, this concerns almost always sexual - and thus inappropriate - events. I can go on and on but I don't want you to think I'm writing a promo for the show, I just want to show you how the writing could've been improved for comedy's sake or romance sake all the same, which was were the emphasis was in this film.
I'm a guy, in case you didn't know, and not a big fan of romantic comedies are all. They're usually - I'm gonna lose big points for this in the typical reader's opinion of me - excruciatingly bad. They give an unrealistic image of contemporary men and never give a man's point of view, plus I'm always having trouble locating the alleged comedy bits :-). But as James Rocchi beautifully observes, 'Definitely, Maybe' has an edge on almost all others in it's genre: 'where most modern romantic comedies are obsessed with the champagne fizz of chance introductions and initial attraction, Definitely, Maybe sticks around to see what happens when the bubbles burst. Every romantic comedy has the 'meet cute' where boy first connects with girl; Definitely, Maybe has the 'meet cute,' but it also has all the things that can come after -- the awkward moments, the scary possibility of hope, the comforts of sadness, the tough talks, the ugly partings, the hard-won reconciliations.' Amen.
I do like 'The Notebook', seeing that if you see the best of the best of any genre, it's enjoyable for anyone and I did like In The Mood For Love, High Fidelity and a couple of others. 'Definitely, Maybe' gets added to that list, and that's a huge compliment. In the end, I just couldn't help myself from loving it.
I just cant resist Rachel Weisz. She is good in this movie along with
Ryan Retnolds. Elizabeth Banks and Isla Fisher are really good. Abigail
Breslin has great future. The storytelling is perfect and direction is
really good, the main thing which kept me going through this movie is "
character development". The chemistry between Will and April is a
treat. Its a story of life and how you tell it to your kids about
meeting their mother. And finding yourself whom you loved the most of
all of them.
Ryan has come long way in his acting from Van Wilder to Chaos Theory to Definitely, maybe. music should have been better. Overall a fun movie to watch with friends, parents, grandparents etc etc.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
So... I'm a guy. Not a lover of romcoms but not a hater either (if you
put it in that category, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is one
of my all-time faves).
I looked at the cast and I figured it'd be worth spending a couple of hours looking at this. I mean, all three of the contenders are lookers and Ryan Reynolds is usually entertaining enough. Last but not least, sweet Abigail from Little Miss Sunshine is back.
So good cast. Also, there were some nice and friendly tunes during the movie that really kept me from looking away and that did a great job in preventing the silence (even though i thought the whole nirvana thing was a tad bit overused).
The plot was not bad at all, and the filmmakers obviously know what they're doing by using clever little tricks to draw you and they do succeed, at a certain level.
However, and apart from a few good scenes (specially in Will's birthday, when he "comes out" to beautiful April), I can't really say I took much from this movie. The whole book-keeping-because-it-was-the-only-part-of-you-I-had-left excuse was very much expected (and I found myself wishing he wouldn't say that) and, in the end, this movie was not so captivating as it could have been.
Still, a lot of pretty faces, gentle humor, decent acting and a simple and inviting score that will aim to please.
Aren't you tired of all those romcoms with the guy and the girl and the
comic relief when it gets too close to reality? Fortunately, this movie
is not one of those. It is a romantic life time-line from the viewpoint
of one guy, telling the story to his nagging preteen daughter.
The acting is good, the story is complex, yet close to home and, most of all, it is all real. Not in the sense that it happened in real life, but that it is not far fetched, not sugar coated, not overly dramatized.
I recommend it both to young and averagely aged couples, because it talks about unrealistic dreams, about real life falling in love, about how people connect, but not in the same time, about dealing with heart break without getting all depressed and surrounded by gay friends :).
Bottom line: it's a romance for couples, but from the standpoint of a guy, an average Joe.
The set-up for this film is that a father is divorcing and his
daughter, Maya, is asking him about how he met her mother. The guy then
talks about a variety of women he dated and slept with as the child
makes occasional commentary to interrupt the story. Some of her clever
and charming remarks are calling one lady a B$%&@ and later, her father
a slut. Later, when you learn which one of them is her mother, she
announces that she 'just learned all about sexual intercourse in
school'. Later, the child gives her now to be divorced father dating
I did not like this film, though the acting was very, very nice. As a retired psychotherapist, I thought that the boundaries between the child (who seemed way too old for her years) and her father were blurred. The adult here was not him, that's for sure. Additionally, there are a lot of political elements in the film (because he's a political operative)--not a bad thing in a drama, but not exactly something I want to see in a romantic film. Nothing destroys romance like politics!!
Overall, I'd say 'nice try but no cigar'. This is a film that too flawed to be worth rushing out to see. It's strange father-daughter situation aside, the story just seemed way too with-it and hip in its parenting style for my tastes. To me, romance should be romantic...and this really wasn't. Additionally, the child seemed like a child as written by someone who's never even seen a child or talked with one!
The DVD for "Definitely, Maybe" starts off very badly--and this might only be with the Netflix version. It forces you to watch a LONG preview for "Mama Mia!"--whether you want to or not. I dunno about you, but this definitely makes me MUCH more inclined NEVER to watch a film they force you to preview...never.
Just watched this romantic comedy-about a divorced father (Ryan Reynolds) telling his daughter (Abigail Breslin) about her potential mother from three past lovers (Rachel Wiesz, Isla Fisher, Elizabeth Banks)-with my parents. We were all amused by some lines especially some concerning Bill Clinton since Reynolds plays someone who was involved in the former president's inaugural '92 campaign who later got disillusioned by his later scandal concerning Monica Lewinsky. There's even a sight of a Clinton lookalike jogging with his men in a later scene. Besides the players I just mentioned, there's also Kevin Kline who plays an grizzly author who is also involved in Wiesz's character. They all enact their characters in a compellingly believable fashion and while some may be alarmed with Ms. Breslin (who's 11 here) saying words like "penis" and "vagina" especially having come from a sex education class, it at least gets the Reynolds character to be a little honest about his relationships from before she was born though he stops when she asks what "threesome" means! And Ms. Fisher is the best of the three women in the flashback scenes as her character exposes her venerability as compared to her previous role in Wedding Crashers. So for anyone looking for a more adult romcom, I highly recommend Definitely, Maybe.
I love Ryan Reynolds and Isla Fisher. They are both terrific actors.
This romantic comedy, while you know its pretense if you've just seen
the trailer, does have some typical sub-plots. But it's not all nice
and tidy and contrived as some may think.
What I love about this story is that it's told through a man's third person point of view. We know he's telling the story, but we see it as it happens from a third-person perspective.
I've never seen Kevin Kline in a role like he plays in this movie, either, and I thought he was fantastic.
If you're sentimental, traditional even in your expectations of romantic comedies, you'll love this movie just for its core message. In very general terms, that core message is that love conquers and withstands all.
I read a review of this movie in "Entertainment Weekly" magazine and remember a comment about Ryan Reynolds, something about his performance not being all that great. I can't remember the exact wording. But actually, I like his performance in this movie. He's incredibly talented and has played comedic characters in the past. This time, I believe he had to perform the character as how the character would have been at that point in his life, which did not require a lot of "outward" emoting. As many men we all know, he plays the character from within, which means not much emotion on the outside, very restrained emotion.
Even though the men in my life are more sensitive than most men, we all know that the majority of men, even those who are more sensitive than others, tend to internalize their emotions and true feelings.
On the other hand...many times, there's nothing going on internally at all...other than the sound of crickets.
Seriously, this is a role for "under" acting, if there is such a thing. I believe he hit the nail on the head of how many men in the world may actually be living their lives in similar situations.
This movie is ultimately...sweet and worth watching, if for nothing more, the relationship this man has with his daughter.
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