- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 14, 2008

“Definitely, Maybe” clearly hopes to capitalize on its Valentine’s Day arrival and its impressive pedigree. The romantic comedy comes to us from Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner (producers of “Notting Hill” and “Love Actually”) and writer-director Adam Brooks (screenwriter of “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason”).

Yet while there are a few things to admire here, there isn’t much with which to fall in love.

Ryan Reynolds stars as Will Hayes, a hardworking, soon-to-be-divorced dad living in New York City. The plot kicks into high gear when he picks up his daughter, Maya (“Little Miss Sunshine’s” Abigail Breslin) from elementary school one day, where she has just had her first sex education lesson. She has heard that some babies are “accidents” and is concerned that she might be one. So, she decides she needs to know everything about how her mom and dad met and fell in love. (Curiously, Maya seems less curious about why they’re splitting up.)

With only a little persuasion, Will decides to dish out all the gory details of the three women he has loved in his life: college sweetheart Emily (“The 40-Year-Old Virgin’s” Elizabeth Banks), alternagirl and former co-worker April (Isla Fisher) and aspiring journalist Summer (Oscar winner Rachel Weisz of “The Constant Gardener”). He has changed their names, however, so that neither Maya nor the audience knows which is her mom and which is his soul mate.

The storytelling premise is fraught with several problems. First, it’s not clear whether Maya even knows her mom in real life. Has Will raised her alone, or have he and his wife shared the parenting duties until recently? Because of this uncertainly, we’re not sure what’s at stake here — and thus may start to tune out after a while.

Second, we assume that the story we’re seeing on the screen is exactly the same one Will is telling his bright-eyed progeny. But his narrative is replete with details that few parents (regardless of how young and hip they may be) would feel comfortable sharing with their children — things like potential threesomes, infidelity, drunken nights and even the sexual exploits of former President Bill Clinton (on whose campaign, we learn, Will once worked). One sex-ed class doesn’t typically prompt discussion of these oh-so-mature topics. So why the heck is dad sharing all this with his 11-year-old daughter?

The answer is that young Abigail’s character isn’t actually a character, but a plot device — one that becomes more frustratingly obvious as the movie wears on. We learn almost nothing about her and her relationships with her parents. Her screen time is limited, and she can do little more than play sweet and innocent, not subtle and multilayered.

With Maya’s character less than half-baked, we’re forced to invest almost solely in Will and his often-unlucky amorous escapades. Mr. Reynolds makes this easy. He’s no John Cusack, but he does serve as a highly compelling leading “rom-com” man. As Will, he’s handsome, understated (with just the right amount of self-deprecating) and a nice foil to his gorgeous, confident female co-stars.

This definitely isn’t a must-see movie for Valentine’s Day. We’d call it more of a maybe.

**1/2

TITLE: “Definitely, Maybe”

RATING: PG-13 (For sexual content, including frank dialogue, language and smoking)

CREDITS: Written and directed by Adam Brooks

RUNNING TIME: 111 minutes

WEB SITE: www.definitelymaybe movie.com

MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS


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