Director: Adam Brooks
Although it opened on Valentine’s Day, starting a romance with a main character being served divorce papers isn’t usually a surefire sign that the film will be heading in the direction of "happily ever after" but it’s precisely this deviation from a traditional romantic comedy paradigm that makes Definitely, Maybe a success despite its forgettable title. Canadian writer Adam Brooks who penned French Kiss, Wimbledon and Practical Magic (along with the atrocious Bridget Jones sequel) does double duty as a writer and director for this tale of a thirty-something father who is coerced into revealing the saga of his romantic life to his precocious ten year old daughter Maya (Abigail Breslin) after her mind is abuzz with new terms and shocking questions following a productive (no pun intended) day of sex education in school.
Deciding to avoid the traditional tale of his courtship of Maya’s mother, Will Hayes (Ryan Reynolds) decides to mix things up by crafting an impromptu love story mystery that will feature his associations with three women with whom he had any serious attachment and leave it up to Maya to decipher which one is her mother since the names and some facts will be changed. Eager to play along, Maya grabs her clipboard to keep track and the film chronicles Will’s life after graduating at the top of his class at the University of Wisconsin in Madison where he lets his political idealism get the better of him and leaves his loyal and loving girlfriend Emily (Invincible’s Elizabeth Banks) to head to New York City in 1992 where he will work on the Clinton campaign. Initially relegated to fetching coffee and toilet paper rolls, he engages in flirtatious banter with bright, challenging April (the adorable Isla Fisher). However, as he confesses to his good friend and coworker Russell (Derek Luke), brunettes with horn-rimmed glasses are his kryptonite (as a brunette who often forgets to put in her contacts, I had to include this!) and he begins forgetting the Wisconsin blonde and redheaded office girl once he meets intellectual Summer Hartley (Rachel Weisz). The trouble however with aspiring journalist Summer (Rachel Weisz) is that she seems preoccupied by her love for former professor Hampton Roth, played by a deliciously funny Kevin Kline visibly relishing in his role as a cad.
Brooks’ unique dialogue and believable characters ring true to audiences who, for once, are treated to a romantic comedy that doesn’t pander to the lowest common denominator with gross-out humor or clichéd stereotypes but seems to get its inspiration from real life and the heartache that romance can bring such as falling for the right person at the wrong time, realizing that as people change so perhaps do their “soul mates” and understanding that none of the characters have all the answers and all are alternately flawed, seductive and intriguing in their own way. While it’s not a perfect romantic comedy drama by any means, it’s up there with Dan in Real Life as one of the better offerings in recent memory for sophisticated ticket buyers rather than the twelve to sixteen year old boys that Hollywood assumes purchases most of the movie admissions.