‘Definitely Maybe’ becomes definite yes

By Jonathan Barnett
March 13, 2008

Universal Pictures

“Definitely Maybe” is a delightful romantic comedy. It lacks excessive use of dirty sex jokes that seem to permeate too many films of its kind. Giving a fresh look into the modern world of finding love, as well as bringing humor and a lesson in love to the screen, this film has successfully captured a story of love, lost relationships and new beginnings in the ’90s.

It begins on a comedic note when young Maya Hayes (Abigail Breslin) is picked up from her Manhattan elementary school after she has just had a class on sex education. Her father, Will (Ryan Reynolds), is now left with the difficult task of filling in the gray, complicated areas left out of the presentation in class. Will, as a father, tries to find a way to answer the questions his daughter has after such a presentation.

He must find a way to answer her questions without saying too much. Another complication to his task is that Will and Maya’s mother are in the middle of divorce, raising a whole other question in Maya’s young, innocent mind, “Why?”

Reynolds’ character finds himself cornered into an explanation of past loves with women previous to his marriage to Maya’s mother. He tells her a story but claims he will change the real names of the three women of his past and leave it up to Maya, and the audience, to figure out which one is her mother.

The movie, written and directed by Adam Brooks, seems to have an obvious and all-too typical end but instead delivers a refreshing breath of originality and cleverness.

He introduces the three women in his story at different times during the movie, yet they all seem to intersect at some point throughout the film.

Each of the women has her own personality, beauty and faults. The women include his college sweetheart, Emily (Elizabeth Banks), a darker and more mysterious Summer Hartley (Rachel Weisz) and the humorous April (Isla Fisher).

His story takes the audience back to a familiar 1992 when a younger Will is about to embark on a journey to New York where he will be working for the Bill Clinton presidential campaign. He leaves behind his home, and Emily, in Wisconsin.

Will soon discovers that being a part of the campaign wasn’t exactly how he imagined it, fetching the coffee order and refilling the toilet paper in the building’s bathroom.

He finds an unlikely friend in the “copy-machine girl,” April, at the New York headquarters for Bill Clinton. While in New York he also meets Summer, girlfriend of the columnist Hampton Roth (Kevin Kline), whom he competes with for Summer’s love and affection.

It becomes evident throughout the movie that one man cannot be in love with three women, a typical ordeal in today’s romantic comedy cinema.

Luckily, Brooks delivers a new twist in the genre and the audience can leave this movie enlightened rather than with a feeling of longing for the time wasted watching another film about fairy-tale love stories and unbelievable events and endings.

A well-done and cleverly told story about love and all the complications that can come with it, without being ridiculously unrealistic, sappy or depressing.

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Jonathan Barnett

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