"Definitely, Maybe" isn't your run-of-the-mill romantic comedy, which in itself is no small feat for a genre that celebrates the run-of-the-mill. The film isn't exactly subversive, but its characters are relatable and interesting, and its take on love is refreshingly realistic.
We are introduced to Will Hayes (Ryan Reynolds), a New York public relations consultant, on the day his divorce becomes final. That's tough enough, but Will has an additional headache when his 10-year-old daughter, Maya (Abigail Breslin), emerges from her first sex-education class. Suddenly, the girl wants to know all about Dad's pre-Mom relationships. Will is flummoxed, but eventually agrees to tell the story of the three women who were in his life back before marriage and parenthood changed everything.
What follows is a sort of romantic mystery, since Will changes the names of the women to keep Maya guessing about which one eventually became her mother: college sweetheart (Elizabeth Banks), spunky copy girl (Isla Fisher) or ambitious journalist (Rachel Weisz)?
Writer/director Adam Brooks achieves an engaging, bittersweet tone. "Defnitely Maybe" exhibits a real fondness for its characters, metaphorical warts and all, and that affection is contagious.
The cast is terrific. Banks and Weisz are customarily excellent " if underutilized " but Fisher is pure effervescence. One can easily understand why Will would fall for any of these three, and not just because they're gorgeous. Breslin is memorable without being precocious, while Kevin Kline has a wonderful bit as a lecherous college professor. Still, Reynolds' ambling Everyman is what ultimately makes the film so moving.