Film: “Definitely, Maybe”

After seeing the headline, “A Valentine for New York” in the Globe and Mail about the movie Definitely, Maybe, I knew I had to see it.

Ryan Reynolds is William Hayes, a devoted father who explains to his daughter Maya (played by the perpetually charming Abigail Breslin) how he met her mother. The foundation of their relationship provides some needed stability in the movie, though some would say Breslin’s character is simply a different incarnation of the leading man’s usual wisecracking sidekick friend. Anyway, Will recounts the different relationships he had as a young man, literally charting his would-be wives and the associated break-ups that ensued.

Definitely, Maybe is principally a movie about bad timing, and thus the flashback structure is an effective vehicle to carry the audience through the years (though it is hard to believe that baby-faced Reyonlds is old enough to have an eight-year old child). The women are a force to be reckoned with in their own right, every one of them easily holding their own. Elizabeth Banks as the comfortable college sweetheart, Rachel Weisz as the intense, sensual journalist, and Isla Fisher as the fun-loving free spirit shine in their respective sequences, and it is easy to see why Will falls for each of them. Reyonlds, who I remember only as an overgrown frat boy in Van Wilder, proves that he is capable of carrying the lead role in an emotionally-charged film (not to mention having eyes that you just want to fall into…).

The one notable weakness of the movie is not the fact that Will is in the middle of a divorce with Maya’s mother, but the fact that their life together is not shown. And beyond the audience’s own extrapolations of why it didn’t work (in order to allow for the ending), it is a narrative hole that should have been filled.

As for the inspiration provided by New York itself, besides the shock of seeing the Twin Towers in an early scene, wasn’t as prominent a backdrop as I was expecting. Moreover, the New York in the movie is spared from the winter season all together, it seems. Because of this, I thought it would have been a more appropriate spring release, though it is coincidental that Will’s involvement in politics (starting with his work in Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign) chimes now with Hillary’s current run for Democratic nominee.

As a whole I found this movie more satisfying as a romantic comedy than 27 Dresses – so if you’re looking for something sweet, go see Definitely, Maybe!

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