| The Red Right Hand
Written and directed by Adam Brooks (responsible for About A Boy), Definitely, Maybe is essentially three thinly drawn stories wrapped into one unimpressive plot. It's the tale of a political campaigner turned market researcher, Will [Reynolds], who tries to explain the complications of relationships and divorce to his daughter, Maya [Breslin] following an unannounced sex ed. lesson. No matter how convoluted and intricately weaved the plot attempts to be, it still comes off as dull and wholly predictable. It was the sort of happy-minded nonsense that populated The Nanny Diaries.
I must confess, Ryan Reynolds is a good actor and I'm generally impressed with the roles he opts for; originally I stated that his serious character felt a little out of place amidst the genera; comic rampaging of Smokin' Aces but he portrays the father role surprisingly well here. Abigail Breslin also does a good job but the role requires that she comes off as another inexplicably direct and precocious child; so I couldn't care less. However the female characters felt a little hollow and stereotypical; Will has to tussle between his college sweetheart [Banks], the content underachiever [Fisher] and the workaholic [Weisz]. The story is largely told through flashback and like Maya we're supposed to weigh up the options and guess which girly her mother might in fact be. If you have half a brain in your head you can quickly guess who it is relatively early on (genetics being on of the key observations but I'm sure that's just coincidence).
A large proportion of the events focus on the 1992 Clinton election and offer nothing more than cheap, retrospective politics and stupid TV samples which throw in spurious references to the birth of the internet, an unknown band named Nirvana and chunky mobile phones - not to mention a pre-Presidential George W Bush reference that was probably supposed to be funny. The 90's flashbacks are also a strange and creepy housing where everyone looks exactly as they do now and despite a few 90's-style Pepsi cans, the past looks a lot like the present. Despite these anachronisms, the film does a fairly good job of accurately depicting Democrats' reactions of the Clinton affair/s; a split between those feeling betrayed and unwavering supporters. In the end, Definitely, Maybe is one of those upbeat New York flicks that feels so disconnected from the real world that you can't help but doubt the believability of the plot.
The only elements of the film that I enjoyed and thought were somewhat true to life were the fact that a politician let someone down and the wide-eyed country boy in the big city; granted, Will's transition to success felt a little stupid and corny but you can't have everything. I especially liked the fact that they employed a copy girl who is solely in charge of making photocopies of speeches; I can't believe Americans advertise mundane office task as a fulltime job. In the end, the character message of the film seems to be women are cryptic and men are dumb; disappointing really, as Brooks portrayed this very issue so well in About A Boy.
UK - 8th February 2008
US - 15th February 2008
The Scene To Look Out For:
*This paragraph contains possible spoilers that may ruin your enjoyment of this film... but it is an awful film, so it's possible it might not*
About midway through the film, Isla Fisher's character explains that, as a child, she received a copy of Jane Eyre for her birthday. It would turn out to be the final present her father bought her before dying in a car accident and she has spent years searching for it. The point that I loved wasn't the fact that Will happened upon the exact copy in a second-hand bookstore, nor that he bought it to win her over but the fact that he kept it for a good ten years and didn't tell her. A bit of a bastardised thing to do, I'm sure you'll agree. The fact that he finally explains that he kept hold of the book because it was all he had left of her is mushy and largely irrelevant; what's important is that she falls for it and runs into his arms. Not the kind of scene I would usually highlight, I'm sure you would agree, but it was necessary because it illustrates just how stupid the story really is.
*This paragraph contains another potential spoiler. Read at your own risk*
Kevin Kline makes a quick (almost cameo) appearance as the aged, drunk character who briefly dates/sleeps with Weisz's character. His musings are humorous enough and offer a nice cynical break from the constant fluffy elements. Unfortunately, in this world at least, cynical people are just grumpy layabouts and need to be taken care of swiftly; in this case, death due to excess drinking and smoking and sex and all sorts. Kline's performance provided light relief from the burdens of the plot while quietly hinting that he's starting to opt for more realistic roles in his older age - if you have no idea what I'm talking about compare the careers of Paul Newman and Robert Redford and spot the one who doesn't want to lose the tomboy image.
"Dad, I can't believe that you smoked and you drank and you were a total slut... but I still love you"
In A Few Words:
"Lightweight cutesy comedy that will no doubt entertain countless uninspired twelve year old girls"