Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Only ‘Maybe’ see Reynolds movie

The film ?Definitely, Maybe? can best be described as a
rollercoaster car traveling both above and below the line of a passable
romantic comedy. At times, the movie soars above this standard and succeeds in
breathing fresh air into a genre that has struggled in recent years. At other
times, however, it sinks well below the line set for humor in a romantic
comedy, barely passing itself off as an annoying game of Guess Who?

Despite the film?s shortcomings, director Adam Brooks
succeeds in piecing together a fresh, creative story that, for the most part,
avoids common romantic comedy plot threads.

The story revolves around a father Will Hayes (Ryan
Reynolds, ?Smokin? Aces?), who is currently going through a divorce, and his
daughter Maya (Abigail Breslin, ?Little Miss Sunshine?). After partaking in a
sex-ed class in school, Maya decides she wants to hear her dad?s romantic
history. What results is a romantic mystery game in which Maya attempts to
guess which woman her mother is among the three lovers her father tells her
about: the college sweetheart Emily (Elizabeth Banks, ?The 40-Year-Old
Virgin?), the free-spirited best friend April (Isla Fisher, ?Wedding Crashers?)
or the aspiring journalist Summer (Rachel Weisz, ?The Constant Gardener?).

One way this story remains fresh is with its inclusion of
political issues, a territory most romantic comedies generally fear entering.
But this film effectively incorporates Will?s career as a political advisor in
a lighthearted way that not only adds creative substance to the story but also
humor, as we watch Will?s life rise and fall alongside the turbulent Clinton
campaign and presidency.

Unfortunately, some of this creativity becomes lost
throughout the film. Although the premise of a romantic mystery tale is an
imaginative idea, it is in the telling of the story that some of this
imagination becomes overwhelmed by other plot points. As a result, Brooks?
fresh film occasionally begins to rot.

Where ?Definitely, Maybe? suffers most is in its inability
to create the sense of any substantial relationship between Will and his three
love interests. The film spends so much time focusing on how Will moves on from
one failed relationship to the next that the writer seems unsure of what to do
once Will is actually in a relationship. The lack of any real connection
between Will and his lovers causes the relationships to seem slightly forced
and therefore unbelievable, and it?s as if Will doesn?t even know the women he
is dating, despite the fact that he spent four years in college with one and
another is his best friend. Consequently, when situations such as break-ups
occur, it is difficult to take emotions like anger and sadness seriously
because there seemed to be no real connection between the characters to begin


Despite flaws in the story, Reynolds still manages to reveal
that he has matured a lot since his juvenile role in 2002?s ?Van Wilder.? His
dead-on performance as a single dad lost in the ways of love is both convincing
and enjoyable. With his boyish charm and witty mannerisms, he commands the
screen and keeps the film entertaining through the points where the plot
threads begin to fray.

However, Reynolds is at his best when he shares the screen
with Breslin. The loving father-daughter relationship between the two is both
energetic and easily relatable. As a result, these scenes are hands down the
highlight of the film.

But this chemistry is just as much a result of Reynolds?
performance as it is Breslin?s. Proving that last year?s Oscar nomination was
no fluke, Breslin is astounding in her role as Will?s conscience in the film.
Her presence on the screen, although limited, is refreshing, and her shining
personality is crucial to keeping the film humorous and enticing. Resultantly,
Breslin?s performance rises well above those of her fellow, more experienced

Although Banks, Fisher and Weisz are all talented actresses,
they unfortunately fail to incorporate their unique personalities into their
roles. Their characters are hollow, and they fail to go beyond what is expected
in order to create a standout performance. In reality, any other actress could
have walked on set and played one of the three roles to the same effect.

In the end, ?Definitely, Maybe? is a film worth seeing for
the captivating performances of Reynolds and Breslin, as well as the
imaginative premise of Brooks? effort.

Even though the film occasionally falls flat in terms of
romantic comedy, it still lends a unique twist to an otherwise rigid genre.


2 1/2 stars out of 5

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