The romantic comedy Definitely, Maybe starts with lead character Will Hayes (Ryan Reynolds) receiving divorce papers. Shortly after, his 10-year-old daughter Maya (Abigail Breslin) starts asking Dad questions about his love story with Mom. After much prodding, he tells Maya his entire (and seemingly uncensored) dating history—with names changed—to see if Maya can guess which woman is her mom.
Why would he do that? Well, maybe (or definitely) it's just to give this romantic comedy a gimmick to make it different. And it works. This fresh "romantic mystery" formula gives the movie a kick of originality lacking from most cookie-cutter romantic comedies, including writer/director Adam Brooks' less successful stabs at the genre (Wimbledon, Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason, French Kiss). There's a lot to like here, starting with the naturally affable Reynolds (best known from Van Wilder) in what could be a breakout role for him. He shares a very fun chemistry with Breslin (who stole Little Miss Sunshine, but has little more to do here than look cute). Rachel Weisz and Isla Fisher create great characters as two of Will's exes. And, on the surface, the movie is charming, likable, and sweet.
But when viewed more closely, Definitely, Maybe starts to unravel. After all, the whole gimmick that sets it apart (Maya's guessing game) is a mystery that the audience cannot possibly guess. But that's not because the puzzle is cleverly constructed—like Lost or something. Instead, Maya accurately spots her mom from Will's parade of girlfriends with one tiny detail she knows about her mom—but the audience doesn't. The gimmick unravels even more when you realize that if Will really told Maya the story out loud, he wouldn't ...1
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