When Harry Met Sally becomes “When Daddy Met Mommy,” a bedtime story by way of a post-modern romantic tale with a dash of mystery, in Definitely, Maybe (2008), not so much whodunit as who-is-it.
Will Hayes (Ryan Reynolds) tell the story of the three loves of his life to his daughter Maya (Abigail Breslin), but he changes the names to keep the mystery until the last act. All the better for Maya to play narrative detective and to keep the audience guessing, though it doesn’t take a genius to see who he’s destined to be with, at least by the conventions of movie romances.
Ryan Reynolds, whose easy screen presence manifested early in his career, is the dad who tells the story of growing up, losing his idealism in life and love, and slowly finding it again. If the details are less than convincing (Clinton’s affair with Lewinsky is enough to lose faith with politics?), the performance carries it through.
Abigail Breslin, the pre-teen Oscar nominee for Little Miss Sunshine, plays the precocious little girl part without overdoing the precociousness. Isla Fisher, Elizabeth Banks, and Rachel Weisz each bring a convincing worldliness to the three dynamic women who rock his world and, to varying degrees, break his heart.
It feels overworked at times, a gimmick saved largely by the chemistry of its players. But this high-concept tale of modern love is also sweet and sour in the best ways. Romantic wounds heal, old loves can still remain friends, and true love is still an ideal worth pursuing. We share Will’s journey from youthful idealism to adult resignation to the compromises of life, riding the romantic highs and rocky lows to the genuinely charming ending.
Derek Luke and Kevin Kline co-star and Adam Brooks writes and directs.
The Blu-ray and DVD special editions features commentary by director Adam Brooks and star Ryan Reynolds, two featurettes, and deleted scenes.