DEFINITELY, MAYBE Directed by Adam Brooks. Starring Ryan Reynolds, Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin, Elizabeth Banks, Rachel Weisz, Kevin Kline 15A cert, gen release, 111 min
THE romcom is currently in such a degraded state that one feels like screeching for joy when any film that meets the description fails to provoke fits of nausea. So hooray for Definitely, Maybe. It’s not a great film, but it’s carried off with sincerity and features effortlessly amiable performances from most of its principal actors. Expect to cry the right sort of tears.
The picture does, it is true, often ask the viewer to accept the madly implausible. We begin in the present day with Ryan Reynolds, a nice man recently separated from his wife, picking up his daughter (it’s Abigail Breslin, of course) from school on the day her sex education classes commence. Eager to distract her from embarrassing questions concerning damp bits, Ryan decides to tell the little imp the story of how he met her mother. Turning the tale into a romantic mystery, he changes the names of his three great loves and invites the girl to work out which he ended up marrying.
Pardon? What 11-year-old knows so little about her mother that she couldn’t immediately pick her out from a line-up comprising a daffy free spirit (Isla Fisher), a top-flight journalist (Rachel Weisz) and dad’s teenage sweetheart (Elizabeth Banks)?
Never mind. Though Banks is disappointingly anonymous, Weisz and Fisher manage to fashion fleshy personalities out of the somewhat thin dialogue, and Reynolds, whose character starts out working for Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign, has just the right baffled charm to carry such a weightless confection.
It comes as no surprise that Definitely, Maybe comes from Working Title Films. Like the best of that company’s work – Four Weddings, About a Boy – Adam Brooks’s film deftly skirts sentimentality without ever turning properly soppy.
Mind you, the awareness that events surrounding the Clinton administration are now deemed fit for the nostalgia treatment may provoke blubbing in some reluctantly middle-aged viewers. When did this stuff cease to fall under the current affairs remit?
Are you my mother? Reynolds flashes back to Weisz