Written and Directed by Adam Brooks
I must be getting soft or something (and not just in the belly area where you can poke me and I'll "hee hee" like the Pillsbury Doughboy... hee hee) but while the academic movie lover in me could probably pick apart Definitely, Maybe until it falls apart under it's own contrived, meandering "realistic" weight (not to mention the heavy pro-Clinton campaign with a nostalgic look back at the 90's), but if I gave 27 Dresses a good grade, I must be feeling pretty generous and sappy because I absolutely loved Definitely, Maybe for heading toward every romantic cliche and then always avoiding crashing into them, veering off into somewhere that actually felt like a story of a real man written by one person, rather than some committee of Hollywood producers.
Of course, the movie is produced by Working Title films (Love Actually, About A Boy, Bridget Jones Diary and produced by the same people who are famous for all the British romantic comedies that mix smarts and intelligence with charm and the happy endings often missing from Hollywood romantic comedies of late, and while Definitely, Maybe mixes How I Met Your Mother while it tries to be the About A Boy except with a girl kid this time around, the ever adorably precocious Abigail Breslin (who somehow avoids being kid-actor-creepy).
And if the reeled in Ryan Reynolds as Will Hayes, holding back his full goofiness to ooze grown up charm (although it took a while for me to buy him as Abigail's father), doesn't make you totally swoon, the bevy of my favorite underused actresses will. Ryan Reynolds retells the tale of the three ladies in his life, all possibilities as his daughter's mother, and Elizabeth Banks (above with Reynolds, Scrubs, The 40 Year Old Virgin, Invincible), Isla Fisher (The Wedding Crashers, The Lookout), and Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardener, The Mummy, About A Boy).
I've been a huge fan of Elizabeth Banks, a beautiful woman who can play crazy comedy then flip back to everywoman charm, and she deserves to be a bigger star than she is.
Rachel Weisz is about the only person from The Mummy that has managed to keep my respect (and get an Oscar nomination), and it's fun to watch her play a woman that is partly attached to her prof. (Kevin Kline) yet intrigued by the idea of Will Hayes.
Then there is Isla Fisher. Real life partner to Borat/Sacha Baron Cohen and scene stealer in The Wedding Crashers but she's a real revelation here and is simply intoxicating in probably one of her most normal roles to date. (On a side note, Isla Fisher looked remarkably like another recent revelation, Amy Adams, who both hold a similar enrapturing charm with Adams as the pristine naive charmer and Fisher as the one with the naughty streak, both MUST get cast in something as sisters at some point soon!).
There's some sidetracking along the way with campaigns for Bill Clinton, a token black best friend (Derek Luke), and lots of back and forth keeping us "guessing" about who the real mother is, but Adam Brooks keeps everything quietly in check, with very few gimmicks in a film that sounded like it would be loaded with them, and the movie ends up simply letting us follow along the charms of Reynolds (um, I've actually liked him since Pizza Parlor days) through a meandering tale that kept turning right as I thought it was about to veer into romcom cliche territory and in the end, I definitely loved the whole affair. No maybe's about that.
Definitely, Maybe = A-
Friday, February 22, 2008