Thursday, February 14, 2008

Romantic mystery lacking romance, mystery

Definitely, Maybe
(Adam Brooks, USA, 110 minutes)
Opens today

A man tells his kid the story of how he met her mother. Why does that sound like a TV show? The storytelling conceit makes Definitely, Maybe seem like a man's attempt to pitch a romantic comedy he's had on the backburner for a while. Ryan Reynolds plays Will Hayes, recently divorced, whose daughter Maya (Abigail Breslin) wants to hear how he and her mother met in the hopes of sparking a renewed flame between them. He keeps the story the same but changes the names, so she can guess whom he ended up marrying. The women are played by Elizabeth Banks (his college sweetheart), Isla Fisher (a co-worker on Bill Clinton's campaign), and Rachel Weisz (Emily's friend). It's fairly basic romantic comedy stuff, with chance meetings, complications, and unspoken emotions galore, until near the end when Will meets up with all the loves of his life in a chain of fortunate encounters that keep young Maya guessing—that is when she's not playing the little dramaturge to her dad's story or giving precocious advice. There's one genuinely sweet scene between father and daughter, and Fisher is a real charmer throughout. This self-proclaimed "love story mystery," though, is short on mystery and long on testing our patience for obligatory coincidence.