Remember when Ryan Reynolds was young and fresh, untainted by the stench of failed projects? Before Green Lantern and The Change Up, Reynolds was a Canadian import with serious potential, leading man good looks, and smarmy humor. Alas, that was then and shall never be again. At least he has Definitely, Maybe under his belt.
Definitely, Maybe uses a slight narrative twist (mainly that the romantic heroine is one out of three possible characters via flashbacks) to cover up that it’s an otherwise basic big studio romantic comedy. However something funny happens; it all works. The actors are good, the story flows, the humor lands and there’s an honesty engrained into the proceedings. With retrospect, the whole films plays like a feature length precursor to the show How I Met Your Mother. It shares a similar plot device and a understanding of the behavior of people in their mid 20’s. It’s confident enough in its strong writing and acting to not try to shove in stagey comedy or unnecessary schmaltz. I wouldn’t call it subtle, but it is smart and charming enough to justify itself. Also, it wisely avoids falling into the trap of making Breslin’s precocious preteen either a too-smart-for-a-child mentor or the human equivalent of a Beanie Baby (because that’s totally relevant). At first she comes off as an excuse for the writers to make some meta jokes about the banality of their romance, but carefully morphs her into a functioning and believable character.
If I had one gripe it would probably be Reynolds. He’s funny and decent as the leading man but I never quite bought him as a father. Either way, the film is charming and that’s all it needs to be.