Review by Jack Foley
HAVING impressed with his last two films Smokin’ Aces and The Nines, Ryan Reynolds now steps up to romantic leading man territory in Definitely, Maybe, a mostly successful rom-com that ticks all the right boxes ahead of its pre-Valentine’s cinematic release.
He stars as Will Hayes, a 30-something Manhattan dad in the midst of a divorce who is forced to take stock of his life when his 10-year-old daughter, Maya (Abigail Breslin), starts to question him about his life before marriage.
Maya wants to know everything about how her parents met and fell in love and so Will agrees to tell her on one condition: that he can change the names of the three women involved so that Maya has to guess which one her father finally married.
Is it Will’s college sweetheart and dependable girl next-door Emily (Elizabeth Banks)? Or his long-time best friend and confidante April (Isla Fisher)? Or the free-spirited but ambitious journalist Summer (Rachel Weisz)?
Adam Brook’s film certainly works best when recalling the various romantic episodes via extended flashbacks, benefiting from the strong chemistry that clearly exists between Reynolds and each of his three female leads.
It’s less assured, however, during the interludes between Will and Maya which flit between overly saccharine and just plain precocious (especially when she starts cutting into each romantic section with a question).
Reynolds maintains an engaging presence and even earns himself a few tug at the heartstrings moments that are sure to melt female hearts, while the women acquit themselves well so as not to make the guessing game too obvious.
Fisher, in particular, emerges as a particularly endearing character – fun, flirty and vulnerable – but Weisz is a suitably sassy journalist who is equally amusing to be around and Banks brings a lot of warmth to her girl-next-door. Kevin Kline also crops up as a wily old professor attached to one of the women.
The various romantic engagements play out against the backdrop of the Clinton-era political scene, which affords Brooks some easy but well-aimed pot-shots at the US political scene, while the comedy is kept low-key throughout so as not to appear overly slapstick or puerile.
The result is a surprisingly sophisticated offering that should comfortably sit alongside other Working Title productions (Notting Hill, Love Actually) as an effortless crowd-pleaser for the romantically inclined. It’s schmaltzy in places but the cast work hard to win your affection and fully deserve to capture your hearts in the end.
Running time: 1hr 51mins
UK DVD Release Date: June 16, 2008