The romantic comedy is a difficult beast to tame.
“Definitely, Maybe” takes a crack at getting some laughs, some tears and a little romance — and it works. Definitely.
Will (Ryan Reynolds) attempts to explain his past relationships and impending divorce to his 11-year-old daughter, Maya (Abigail Breslin), with a twist — he changes the names of his romantic partners and won’t tell her which woman is her mother.
This sounds like a knock-off of the TV show “How I Met Your Mother,” but quality performances across the board make this a film that should please. Ever since Reynolds left “Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place,” I have been rooting for him to make a good film. He finally has delivered.
Reynolds’ timing and heartfelt connection to all the women in the film should keep the audience aboard throughout his journey as a political consultant who falls in and out of love with three different women.
And can you blame him? The women are Isla Fisher (“Wedding Crashers”), Elizabeth Banks (“Scrubs”) and, best of all, Rachel Weisz (“The Constant Gardener”), who adds enough credibility to push “Definitely, Maybe” beyond your average bubble gum romance.
The story dances along with Will telling Maya all the details that led up to … well, her. And even a moment such as Will accidentally talking about a “threesome” works, with Breslin turning in her second worthy performance of her short film career (she was Little Miss Sunshine). The worksheet that Maya creates to try to figure out which woman is her mom adds a nice hint of mystery.
If I were to nitpick, I could attack the aging of the characters. Will’s hair changes, but he never seems to age. However, it’s a minor point. After all, Billy Crystal played a college kid in part of “When Harry Met Sally.”
Whether it’s Will talking with Maya, connecting with the three very different women or working to get ahead on the Bill Clinton campaign, all the parts add up to the best romantic comedy of the year (so far).
And for all the unnatural setup, it’s amazing that the performances come off so naturally. Reynolds, Weisz, Fisher and the rest of the cast really do take the audience on a wonderful journey of discovering what (and perhaps more importantly, whom) you want out of life.
Final Score: 8 out of 10
Starring: Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Abigail Breslin, Isla Fisher and Rachel Weisz
Directed by:Adam Brooks
Other: A Universal Pictures release. Rated PG-13 (language, sexual situations)
Running time: 112 minutes.