Poor young Maya (Abigail Breslin
) is having a difficult day. Her Manhattan public school just implemented a sexual education program, opening up a world of questions she's not ready to answer. She's still coming to terms with her parents' pending divorce. Convinced she needs to get to the bottom of their crumbling relationship, Maya asks her father, Will (Ryan Reynolds
), to tell her the story of how he and her mother met. "It's complicated," he offers, desperately avoiding the difficult task.
He isn't exaggerating. And while Will's story has more levels than a New York skyscraper, the pleasure comes in his recounting as Definitely, Maybe cruises along.
Writer-director Adam Brooks
turns his clock back to 1992 to explain how Will, a gopher on Bill Clinton's first presidential campaign, eventually met Maya's mother. The film has fun guarding its slight riddle regarding the matriarch's identity, presenting three winsome women who could be "the one." Is it Emily (Elizabeth Banks
), the wholesome college sweetheart Will left in Wisconsin? Could it be Emily's longtime friend Summer (Rachel Weisz
), a budding journalist languishing in a dead-end affair with a burned-out politico (Kevin Kline, amusing in a beefed-up cameo role)? Finally, there's a chance Maya's mom will end up being April (Isla Fisher
), the playful and non-committal copy girl whose tender heart is always just out of Will's reach. Article continues below
Brooks built his career writing romantic comedies such as French Kiss (with Kline), Wimbledon, and the Bridget Jones sequel. He takes a novel approach to what amounts to a familiar tale, framing Maybe as a bedtime story Will tells to Maya. Reynolds has never been more appealing as both a father to Breslin and an affable romantic lead to his three gorgeous (and lovable) co-stars.
Maybe will sprinkle its pixie dust over anyone who took their own circuitous path to true love. As a storyteller, Brooks happily detours down a few stray alleyways of his own, though these asides give Maybe unanticipated flavor. He approaches Maybe like Woody Allen's second cousin twice removed, letting the funky, comfortable heartbeat of New York City provide a suitable rhythm for his work.
Maybe is a pastiche, a quilted concoction of stories that make up one man's love life. Because I thought I knew how it would end, I let my guard down and was completely surprised by the sweet, happy finale, which Brooks and his cast definitely earn.