"Definitely, Maybe" is a solid date movie.
I took in the new flick Definitely, Maybe last Thursday. Not surprisingly, it was a popular place to be in Manhattan on Valentine's Day. Most of the prime-time showings were sold out (thankya now-concluded writer's strike). And judging by the fact that people were sitting on the floor (illegally) they probably could have added many more screens. The audience was a mix of girl-power trios and couples, as you might expect.
It's hard to classify this movie as a romantic comedy. Most of the comedic moments stemmed from Abigail Breslin's (Little Miss Sunshine) aw-shucks, kids-say-the-darnest-things lines. And Ryan Reynold's (who we call "Double R") natural comedy shines through in a video about tying shoes (more about that later). But this movie feels much more like a romance. The film kicks off with a disenchanted ad exec (Reynolds) receiving a bit of bad news via courier (you've been served-type news) and then having to fill in the blanks for his elementary school-aged daughter (Breslin) after an aborted sex class. Hardly a banner day in his life.
As Reynolds starts explaining the birds and the bees, Breslin immediately wants to know how her mama's stigma was fertilized... from the beginning. So Double R obliges her but changes the names to keep things lively. What unfolds is a man examining what went wrong and where. The supporting actresses are good. Each one sticks to her niche; Elizabeth Banks is the girl next door (albeit sexy), Rachel Weisz is world-weary and self-centered (weltschmerz much, Frau Weisz?), and Isla Fisher (that lucky Borat) is a coquette. They pop in and out of Double R's life interestingly enough that it is a bit of a mystery who the eventual mother of his children is. The interaction between Breslin and Reynolds seems genuine without being too cutesy. And Kevin Klein's role as a hard-living political journalist is one of his best in years. The only disappointing part of the film was Double R's restraint. We guess that either director Adam Brooks or more likely Reynolds himself kept the leash a little tight. And it's a shame that the movie that he earns best acclaim (so far) is the one that he was least like himself.
I say certainly, most likely (groan) that this is a good date movie. Maybe not as good as Love Actually, but what modern romantic comedy is? If you miss it in the theater, it will be worth snuggling up to at home; with or without someone to share the popcorn with.