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Definitely, Maybe is a combination of a romantic-comedy and a romantic-mystery that will charm you and keep you guessing at the same time. Eschewing standard rom-com formats and forging a winding path all its own, this sweet tale is the perfect Valentine's Day treat.
Ryan Reynolds stars as Will Hayes, a divorcing dad whose precocious young daughter Maya (Abigail Breslin) demands to hear the story of how her parents fell in love, even though that love is now falling apart. When Will spills that her mother was one of three serious relationships in his life, it only sparks the 11-year-old Maya's curiosity more. Will finally agrees to tell the story, but under a few conditions: he's changing the names of the women so that the identity of Maya's mother will remain a mystery until the end, and he's changing some of the details (to try and keep the story more "PG"Â, if you will).
From then on most of the movie is told in flashbacks (with present-day interjections from cute-as-a-button Breslin), beginning in 1992 when a starry-eyed, fresh-out-college Will gets his first job working on Bill Clinton's campaign in New York. His new job takes him far away from his college sweetheart, the perky blonde Emily (Elizabeth Banks), and their relationship quickly begins to fall apart. It doesn't help matters that he becomes immediately smitten with Emily's old friend Summer (Rachel Weisz), an intellectual, independent-minded journalist whom he meets up with in New York. Right around this same time he also meets April (Isla Fisher), a quirky, apolitical firecracker who works in the campaign office strictly for the cash. Will and April butt heads at first, but the two become fast friends.
His intertwined relationships with these three very different women inform the course of his life, through career ups and downs (funny references to the Clinton scandal included), missed chances, and bad timing. The fun part is that you're unsure who Maya's mother will turn out to be, let alone who Will will actually end up with in the end. Each woman is so appealing in their own way, that either one could quite possibly be the one. Each relationship has its own flaws as well. It makes for an interesting, surprising guessing-game. This is one romantic-comedy that isn't predictable from the start.
Of course, I won't give away the conclusion but I will say that I had my own personal favorite love-interest and in the end I was not disappointed. Reynolds continues to flash his winning charisma on-screen, but the real stars of this film are the females. They flesh out realistic characters that could have otherwise been generic "girlfriend"Â roles. Banks brings wholesomeness and a touch of vulnerability
to Emily, a small-town girl who's afraid of losing her boyfriend to big city. Weisz is sassy and sultry as the bold Summer, a woman with ambitious career goals to match Will's. Ultimately, though, her job could prove to be a major complication in her relationship with him. Fisher glows as the free-spirited, Kurt Cobain-obsessed April. She's not afraid to speak her mind and argue her point. The problem is, her and Will are such good friends that they can never quite get the timing right to truly be together.
I especially liked how Will's interactions with the three women brought out different sides to his character. They are each able to teach him things about himself, and that's the upside to any failed relationship"”you'll always learn something.
There was one thing that bothered me about the end though. Maya is a bit too quick to support her dad in moving on. Divorce is hard on any kid, but Maya right away puts her dad's happiness before her own urging him to pursue his rightful match. I felt like a real child would be more loyal to their mother and not want their father to move on so quickly. But, I guess Maya's selfless and wise beyond her years. It works for the story so I'll suspend my belief and let it slide.
Definitely, Maybe as a whole is more mature than many other films in its genre. I found it thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish. Love is complicated and messy; people make mistakes and things don't always work out the way you think they will. Finally, a romantic-comedy that gets that.
Movie Grade: B+