Definitely Maybe (2008)
How I Met Your Mother
Dad, I can't believe you smoked... and drank... and was such a slut... But I still love you - Maya
"Definitely Maybe" is a busy little movie with three romances, a career in politics and an inquisitive daughter, there is plenty going on, but unfortunately it struggles. It struggles because that although there are various stories making it mildly entertaining it moves too quickly and it's not until it slows down to take a breathe towards the end does it really start to become enjoyable.
Will Hayes (Ryan Reynolds - Smokin' Aces), a 30-something father of one is in the midst of getting a divorce with a very inquisitive daughter. When his daughter Maya (Abigail Breslin - No Reservations) starts questioning him about his love life prior to marrying her mum he is forced to face up to the romantic ups and downs which lead to much heart break as well as understanding that maybe he didn't end up with his one true love.
The trouble is that "Definitely Maybe" is quite a good movie which is too often pulled down by some poor decisions, including that of casting Ryan Reynolds in the lead. If you look at the storyline it is indeed very clever and I like that Will is forced to examine his previous loves by an inquisitive daughter played by the brilliant Abigail Breslin. I like the fact that it is told in the form of a bed time story, which allows for some great interjections by Maya at various points such as when she discovered her father smoked or enquires what a "threesome" is. I even like the fact that it combines 3 romances into the story which for me makes it that little bit more realistic. But then everything feels a little rushed to the point that rarely does "Definitely Maybe" stops to allow you to think about things. Because of this I struggled to really get into it, watching with out really taking much in because it doesn't give you the chance.
As for laughs well "Definitely Maybe" has a few, not to the point that you will ever get close to busting a gut but enough to break the movie up a little. The best of the humour actually comes from supporting characters rather than the main ones and usually in the most innocuous of scenes. When the staff in the shop explain to Will that his smokes have gone up due to tax and a new health warning that is actually funnier than many of the obvious gags which litter the movie. It is actually the obvious gags such as when Will mouths 'Thank You' to a pedestrian who saves him from being run over that drag the movie down and make it a little banal.
What makes "Definitely Maybe" work is that it is set back in the 90s and involves the political campaigning for Bill Clinton which leads to many references to his liaisons with a certain Monica. This for me helped raise "Definitely Maybe" slightly as I could remember those things happening and so they brought an added humorous element to the movie. But on a flip side I can imagine that these sorts of moments would have fallen flat for those to young to remember them.
But the biggest problem with "Definitely Maybe" is Ryan Reynolds an actor who excels in certain roles but in others, such as this one, comes over as utterly annoying. I don't know what it is about the performance; whether it is the look of dumbness on his face or that at times Reynolds seems to be trying to emulate Will Ferrell in the stakes for being over the top, but something makes the character of Will off putting. In fairness once the movie slows down and Reynolds starts to play the character with a more naturalness about it I did start to warm to him, but this did not make up for the other 90% of the movie.
Thankfully Reynolds is bolstered by some good performances from his supporting ladies and I include the young Abigail Breslin in this. Breslin steals every scene she appears in and takes the cute kid role of Maya that one step further with her grown up inquisitiveness. It says something about a movie where a 12 year old in a supporting role upstages the main star.
Also helping to make "Definitely Maybe" more enjoyable is Isla Fisher who puts in quite a sweet performance as April, the copier girl who becomes Will's closest friend. In the past Fisher has annoyed me with her slightly over the top comic performances but here she is close to being wonderful in her role of April and is utterly loveable. On top of this there are supporting performances from Elizabeth Banks, Rachel Weisz as well as Kevin Kline all of who help to take the attention away from Reynolds which is a plus point.
What this all boils down to is that "Definitely Maybe" is a pretty average romantic comedy that should have been so much better but failed because of poor decisions. The storyline moves far too fast for my liking and the casting of Reynolds was not the most inspired. But even so it is enjoyable and is on par with most other modern romantic comedies which seem to spend more time on providing laughs than any real romance.
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