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Definitely, Maybe

Definitely Sappy

Everyone’s favorite heartwarming (or gutwrenching if you’re single) holiday is upon us. With cupid shooting arrows and hopeless romantics swooning, what better time is there for Hollywood to trot out a romantic comedy that will inevitably remind one that love conquers all?

Definitely, Maybe starts off in comedic fashion with soon to be divorced Will Hayes (Ryan Reynolds) picking up his daughter Maya (Abigail Breslin) in the wake of a sex education class that has the school in an uproar and parents hot and bothered (not in the carnal sense). Naturally, ten-year old Maya has lots of questions for her dad…most of which involve how he met her mom.

Reluctant to tell the story of his life prior to Maya’s inception, Will finally caves in and agrees to tell the tale, but elects to exercise extensive creative license in relating it. Names will be changed to protect the innocent and details will be altered at Will’s discretion.

The majority of Definitely, Maybe is told in a series of flashbacks starting around the time Will was first launching his fledgling political career in New York. We meet the girl next door Emily (Elizabeth Banks), the apolitical confidante April (Isla Fisher), and the ambitious journalist Summer (Rachel Weisz). Will recounts his various dalliances with all three and purportedly his telling of the story muddies the water enough to keep Maya (and the audience) guessing.

Unfortunately, there are a few problems with this set up. For starters, it’s a bit of a stretch to believe that Will could alter the names/details enough such that Maya would not be able to figure out exactly who her mom was in pretty short order. Maya is 10-years old (and pretty sharp) and presumably knows a reasonable amount about her mother. It would be a different story if Maya’s mom left when she was 2 and Maya hadn’t seen her in eons, but that’s not the case.

Setting this fairly significant problem aside for a moment, Reynolds once again comes across as fairly likable and charismatic in a film that just doesn’t quite rise above mediocrity. It would be nice to see Reynolds get attached to a truly great film given the glut of average (or less than average) films he’s been cast in.

Kudos should also be given to Isla Fisher who acts as a great foil for the politically ambitious Will. The moments with these two onscreen are filled with palpable sexual tension…particularly when they are at odds. Abigail Breslin once again is charming as the inquisitive and precocious Maya. Last but not least, we have a brief but entertaining glimpse of the talented Kevin Kline as a professor/author who has a thing for Summer.

Unfortunately, the solid cast and the vaguely entertaining recounting of Will’s past romances isn’t enough to enable Definitely, Maybe to melt your heart. This so called "mystery love story" is all too predictable and it’s too difficult to believe that Maya wouldn’t be sharp enough to figure out which character was in fact her mother. But, mercifully Definitely Maybe is a solid step above the nauseating P.S. I Love You.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars