100 of 105 people found the following review helpful
The concept here is great: on the eve of his divorce, a father tells his daughter the story of how he fell in love with her mother by changing names so she has to guess who she is in the story. What's so amazing is how they were able to pull off this story with three female leads all interacting with the same man, and yet somehow make us cheer each of them on in their own way. Ryan Reynolds is great in the lead, easily flowing from the caring father of the present to the stricken college student of the past and beyond. As the story unfolds, you'll meet Emily, April, and Summer--three women who will have a dramatic impact on his life in various ways.
There are some genuinely funny moments in this film, and I honestly can say I never really got bored at any point. It was like watching three romances unfolds and ultimately fall apart for different reasons. No doubt you will find yourself choosing a favorite, and like Maya (the daughter), you'll be hoping your favorite will turn out to be her mother. Be prepared to be surprised though.
As the movie drew closer to the end, I honestly thought I was going to be disappointed in how it ended. But the movie managed to end perfectly. Reynolds is a great actor who can be flippant and cocky one moment, then broken-hearted and in love during the next. Isla Fisher does a great job as April, the outgoing copy girl who works with him during the Bill Clinton campaign.
If you're looking for a great romantic movie, this is the one.
43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on March 10, 2008
In most romantic comedies, you have a story where boy meets girl, then boy loses girl, and finally boy and girl re-unite and live happily ever after (or v.v.).
"Definitely, Maybe" is definitely not your usual run-of-the-mill romantic comedy, and refreshingly so: taking a very different approach to the subject.
For starters, the storyline revolves around the relationship between a father (Ryan Reynolds, played by Will Hayes) and his daughter, Maya (played by Abigail Breslin). Throughout most of the film, Ryan's romantic adventures (and misadventures) are potrayed as a series of flashbacks, as he relates the story of his life to his daughter in the form of a bedtime story.
Some of the dialog, particularly Maya's lines, are hysterically, if not shockingly funny - such as a very clinical discussion she has with her father about procreation as he picks her up at school after a "sex ed" class: she asks, for instance, how a baby could be "mistake" after going through all that effort to try and make one. Later, she asks her father (after he relates his past relationships to her) "What's the male word for 'Slut'?" To which he sheepishly responds "They're still working on that one."
An interesting twist is that the father thinks he's helping Maya to become more mature and sophisticated in her knowldge of the many emotional dimensions and complexities of adult relationsips. In fact, there's more to it than that: as Maya's dad tells the story of his relationships with three very different women: "Emily", "Summer" and "April" to his daughter, you see him growing in maturity as he drifts from one relationship into another (and back again). You also begin to understand why his marriage to Maya's mom failed (as is hinted at the start of the film): he's the one who needed to grow up. A point emphasized when Maya explicitly tells him so.
Ultimately, this movie spoke to me about the importance of maturity in relationships, and about how Love doesn't always come in the package (or place) you expect.
I give "Definitely, Maybe" four stars - not likely to get an Academy Award, but certainly a sweet, funny story with excellent performances.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on July 17, 2008
Is Ryan Reynolds capable of making a bad movie? I am sure he must have somewhere, but I have yet to see one. And this film may be the best one yet. All three of the leading ladies were good, with Isla Fisher pitch perfect. And young Abigail Breslin will surely be a gem for decades to come.
A good comedy shows us things about human nature and truth. It is no accident that the only great writer who appears in any of Plato's Dialogues is Aristophanes [in the Symposion]. Even the ancient Greeks understood this simple fact- that comedy can teach the deeper truths about humanity far better than drama. This comedy goes far beyond the usual cheap Hollywood formula to truly explore what happens as people fall into and out of love- and perhaps how real love begins. This is not about winning or losing at love- rather it is about how our character is what makes love possible- or impossible. In short, this film really explores that part of human nature that is entertwined with romance. Aristophanes would have approved.
So this actually is a romantic comedy that does not follow the standard formula. Yet, despite the premise, it DOES have a happy ending.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on June 19, 2008
This was billed as a romantic comedy but I didn't find it anywhere near a comedy. Maya delivers the best comedic, if not the only, comedic lines. That being said, it was a nice family film. Will is reluctant to talk about his past because it's "complicated" and Maya is tired of hearing "it's complicated". Finally, the two make a truce and Will shares his life's story--romance wise--with as much innocence as he can muster up. But as the story unfolds, it's not Maya that gets a lesson in life, but Will. Some consider the character of Will to be rather dull, but you have to remember that he's supposed to be depressed. He'd gotten burned so many times in his relationships--his best friend, his girlfriends, his job--that he's all but given up on finding true happiness. When his daughter tells him he needs to get happy again, he tries to tell her that he is--that he has her, but wise beyond her years, she sets him straight. She loves that he feels she's the best thing that ever happened to him, but she knows he needs more, he deserves more. If you spend your life doing everything for your children and find that you aren't as happy as you'd like to be and worry that doing things for you--to make you happy--could hurt your children's happiness, then you must take a queue from Maya and find happiness because when you are happy, so are your children.
26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on February 15, 2008
Romantic comedies often focus on the chemistry between adults, but rarely do they focus on the chemistry between an adult and a child. Such chemistry shines in "Definitely, Maybe," which sees Ryan Reynolds and Abigail Breslin playing one of the most charming father/daughter duos of recent memory. They just work well, and this is despite the fact that they're not given much screen time together. I say this because most of the film takes place before her character was born, recalling the events that led to the Reynolds character meeting her mother. This idea is heartwarming, if a little contrived; then again, I don't think a romantic comedy could even exist without being contrived, seeing as they never represent reality. After suffering through the dreadful "27 Dresses," films like "Definitely, Maybe" prove that such films can still be entertaining.
It all begins when soon-to-be-divorced Will Hayes (Reynolds) picks up his daughter, Maya (Breslin) from her school, which is swarming with parents outraged over the day's display of sex education. Maya challenges Will with a series of embarrassing questions, and on their return home, she wants him to tell her the story of how he and her mother met. He initially refuses, mostly because his is a very complicated story; he had not one but three serious girlfriends, and all of them had important parts to play. Will eventually decides to tell Maya the story, but only on the condition that he's allowed to change the names of the girlfriends. Maya actually likes this, because it will give her the chance to guess which woman became her mother.
Thus begins the story proper, which begins in Wisconsin in 1992. Will is a college student who dreams of becoming a politician, and he wants to follow this dream by moving to New York and joining Bill Clinton's first presidential campaign. This doesn't mesh with the plans of his college sweetheart, whose name has been changed to Emily (Elizabeth Banks). Emily says she's worried that New York will change Will into something he's not; Will seems to understand that she's really scared of him succeeding and being too good for her, and because of that, he promises that their love will remain. Things obviously take a complicated turn when he arrives in New York, which for him is not only a blizzard of political activity, but also a hotbed of social development.
Here enters a woman named April (Isla Fisher), who doesn't consider herself a Democrat, a Republican, or even an Independent--political affiliations mean nothing to her because it means choosing a side, and choosing a side is unimportant in the grand scheme of things. There's an immediate connection between her and Will, although neither one is ready to admit that it will lead to something more than friendship. This is especially true since Will is ready to propose to Emily, who's finally found time to visit New York. I won't say whether or not he goes through with it, nor will I reveal what Emily says to him; what I will say is that one of Emily's old college friends enters the picture and complicates things further.
This friend is Summer Hartley (Rachel Weisz), a willful young woman aspiring to be journalist. She's introduced to Will through Emily's diary, which she wanted Summer to have as a gift (it describes some pretty naughty stuff, which is probably why Will reads it without permission). Despite the fact that she's sleeping with her thesis director--a pompous writer named Hampton Roth (Kevin Kline)--she quickly charms her way into Will's life, and he seems more than happy let her. At least, he does at first; his co-ownership of a political advertising agency is jeopardized when her published article paints a damning picture of the man he's endorsing as Governor. He quickly begins to rethink his situation, forcing him to wonder if the right woman is out there or if she even exists. Of course, we know right from the start that she does, so it's only a matter of Maya figuring everything out: Is her mother April, Emily, or Summer?
The final third of "Definitely, Maybe" is the weakest part, relying too heavily on the routine material romantic comedies are notorious for. This isn't to say that the film derails; it stays right on track all throughout, and it doesn't lose itself to an overabundance of sappy dialogue or implausible twists of fate. It's not free of them, of course, but at least they're used sparingly and at levels that are tolerable. And there's no denying that the main characters are engaging, especially Maya, who's more open to lines of communication than her father initially is. Watching them, I never once questioned or even analyzed their love for each other--I was immediately taken by it, and I continued to believe it even after the film ended.
These characters alone make this film worthwhile, so much so that we can forgive many of the more formulaic aspects; let's be vague and say that the final sequence is overwhelmingly predictable, a cliché taken from a deep pool of romantic comedy clichés. But I didn't mind this time because the story could actually support such a sequence; this is essentially a father/daughter story, and as such, it's appropriate--maybe even necessary--that the daughter would want the father to find the happiness he's been longing for (which obviously has nothing to do with political aspirations). Despite being flawed and generally harmless, "Definitely, Maybe" is still one of the better romantic comedies. I smiled more often, I laughed longer, and I was touched at a deeper level.
22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on June 16, 2008
Wow, what a great movie. I havent seen such a heart-felt romantic comedy in so many years and this really jumpstarted that romantic side of heart that's been dying to see a good romantic comedy. This movie is simply superb in execution and performance... touching and funny in all the right places and I never once felt bored despite its seemingly long duration. I thought of doing some internet surfing but couldnt bear to tear my eyes away and miss those good moments, and there are many.
I would rate this on the top of my list for romantic comedies. I hope we see more of Ryan Reynolds because I liked him a lot in 2 guys and a girl and a pizza joint. The actresses were all memorable and amazing (especially Isla Fisher). Anyways, you cant go wrong with this one when you want to make your heart warm a little.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Will Hayes (Reynolds) is almost divorced. After picking up his daughter, Maya (Breslin), they head to his house where she asks him to tell her the story of how he and her mother met. Her hope is that his memories will deter him from signing the divorce paperwork. He agrees, but decides to change the names of those in the story so that Maya will have to guess who her mom is. The three main choices are Emily (Banks), Summer (Weisz), and April (Fisher). Emily is Will's college sweetheart, Summer is Emily's ex-lover, and April is a co-worker at the Clinton campaign.
"Definitely, Maybe" is a surprisingly good romantic comedy. The reason it really works though, is because of the uncertainty of who Will will end up with. It isn't your typical romantic comedy. Even if you pick out who Maya's mom is, you may not predict the ending. The trio of actresses are all good in there roles, and manage to help Reynolds along. Kevin Kline even turns up for a scene stealing role as Summer's professor/lover. "Definitely, Maybe" is a solid date movie that will be enjoyed by both men and women. I recommend it.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on June 19, 2008
"Once upon a time, before e-mail and cell phones and TV reality shows"
- Will Hayes (Ryan Reynolds) in DEFINITELY MAYBE
Once upon a time we all fell in love and we know and remember how good it felt. All of our senses were piqued and we thought that this love or even any of our loves would last forever. For some of us that was true and we were the lucky ones and for others...well let us say that they were not so lucky; but most of them kept looking, hoping to find their soul mate or what they wanted to believe was the "real thing".
In the sweet romantic comedy DEFINITELY MAYBE, Albert Brooks has directed and written a winner. The movie sends a message to children of divorce which is heart felt; yet I don't believe that the movie is necessarily one for children. Maybe it is one for our grown up children, now adults, or others who may have gone through a divorce in their family and still somehow are trying to cope with the loss.
Brooks has quite a few films like BRIDGET JONES: THE EDGE OF REASON, WIMBLETON, AND FRENCH KISS. But this little gem is different and an intelligent study into the history of love (for better or for worse).
While watching the film, I wondered how would you ever tell your daughter a historic rendition of your love life or tell her a bit about all of your leading ladies in your life if you were a father of a 10 year old girl (Maya Hayes) who in this movie is played by Abigail Breslin . This is exactly what happened. For those of you not familiar with the young Ms. Breslin, she played a role in the movie LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE.
When one thinks of the prospect of relating such a history, the viewer has to feel a bit of trepidation for Will Hayes because along with this narrative will be revealed all of the bewildering aspects of life which are part of being in love. And you have to love our tormented father, because he tells the story in such a way so as not to destroy his daughter's belief in the power of love, and not to deprive her of a happy ending. He does not want her not to believe that there is a soul mate out there or at least even a not so perfect spouse who is in every sense still just right for her.
One thing Will tried to not do was to shatter her dreams by relating all of the ugly truths that are part of life; but some of those fell out along the way. One of Maya's revelations was when she said, "Dad, I can't believe you smoked, you drank, and you were a slut." Some of us might think that this is quite the language for a nice 10-year-old girl and some might think it was funny. But this sort of language and some of the other innuendoes may make this not a film for your children; but you have to be the judge.
There is a lot of flashback in the movie and one has to believe that these present day characters were about 10 - 15 years younger at the time. It is a stretch but when you watch a movie you are always drawn into this kind of make believe so you are easily strung along. Will (Ryan Reynolds) goes though his litany of failed or uncompleted loves and one has to wonder how he managed to afford the tokens of love which he produced. It is all in good fun and in the right spirit and is an intelligent probing of why folks fall in love and with whom and at what time in their lives.
Emily, Summer, April or any other names that mark the passages of love in one's life would be appropriate for all of us; and these names could be interchanged with male ones if a woman and the story would still be anyone's story. Any one of us could probably tell similar tales which we have buried somewhere deep in our psyche; what makes this movie nice is that it puts it all out there for you to be able to let go of what might have been and seize the moment of what is.
Like our protagonist says, " Once upon a time.....
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 14, 2008
I loved this picture! What a great movie to watch with your best friend, mom, daughter, or even husband!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I'm not the intended audience for romantic comedies. Indeed, I'm the one in the corner, rolling his eyes and looking at his watch every-so-often, hoping the movie will end prematurely. I'm just not the person these movies are made for. The number of romantic comedies I do like can probably be counted on one (...maybe two if I stretched it), and Definitely, Maybe is one of those.
The premise is pretty simple. Ryan Reynolds plays a father named Will to Abigail Breslin's Maya. Will is in the midst of a divorce, and Maya (who just learned about where babies come from) wants to know the particulars of his relationship with her mother. So, Will envisions a story that talks about the three major loves of his life but changes their names so that Abigail (and, consequently, the audience) keeps guessing which one is her mother.
What follows is reminiscient of When Harry Met Sally...if Harry was involved with three women. The story Will tells talks about love lost and gained over the course of his young adult life, starting when Clinton was running for presidency and moving to today. Throughout the years, he continues to run into the free-living April (played by the lovely Isla Fisher), the rascally Summer (played by Rachel Weisz) who is also a reporter, and Will's first real love Emily (played by Elizabeth Banks).
The structure of the film enables the film makers to break the traditional romantic comedy struggle and, even when the cliche raises, they are able to hide it better than others. But, truthfully, the thing that won me over was the humor. I have become a Ryan Reynolds fan, especially since his role in The Nines, and his comedic timing is perfect for this type of film. Additionally, Isla Fisher is always enjoyable; I've loved her since Wedding Crashers.
Finally, the chemistry, something that is oh-so-important and not always attained, was really good, especially between Reynolds and Abigail as his daughter. Their relationship was believeable and funny, providing a terrific framing to the story. Overall, Definitely, Maybe was an enjoyable film that won me over simply based on the humor quotient. It's a great date movie.