Film Review: “Definitely, Maybe” * * * 1/2
Isla Fisher and Ryan Reynolds in “Definitely, Maybe.”
“Definitely, Maybe” is so smart and packed with the fine details of life, it seems an injustice to label it as a romantic comedy. If anything, writer-director Adam Brooks has created something more like a personal epic. Many things happen in “Definitely, Maybe,” and star Ryan Reynolds proves he can carry it all the way.
In the present day, Will Hayes (Reynolds) is a bored advertising executive who just received his divorce papers. It is his afternoon to pick up his precocious daughter Maya (Abigail Breslin), who has just had a difficult day at school and whose mind is full of questions. She wants to know about love, about all the women Will knew before he and her mother met and fell in love, and why it’s ending this way. She wants to hear the whole story.
Will changes all the names — he doesn’t want Maya to know who her mother is in the story until the end — and begins a sweeping tale of ambition and love set against ’90s politics. The key women in the story are college sweetheart Emily (Elizabeth Banks), her worldly ex-roommate Summer (Rachel Weisz) and April (Isla Fisher), a friend who is always there to open Will’s eyes but always out of reach romantically.
The emotional and dramatic arc of “Definitely, Maybe” is set against the political life of former President Bill Clinton; this is an effective device. Will begins his adult life as a Clinton volunteer in the 1992 election. His personal fortunes rise during the presidency and crash during the 1998-99 scandal. Along the way, Brooks has bolstered the action with nicely chosen musical timepieces from Nirvana, Stereo MCs, A3 and Belle & Sebastian that will resonate with people who came of age in Will’s time.
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