Film: "Definitely, Maybe" movie

Definitely, Maybe…  Definitely

(Photo: left) Will Hayes (RYAN REYNOLDS) reconnects with girl-next-door Emily (ELIZABETH BANKS) in a romantic comedy about going back to find your happy ending--"Definitely, Maybe". Photo Credit: Andrew Schwartz. Copyright: © 2008 Universal Studios. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

By Madeyln Ritrosky

Opening Night at the 23rd Santa Barbara International Film Festival was the romantic comedy Definitely, Maybe.  There was the fun and excitement of an opening night, complete with red carpet and actors from the film, spotlights beaming into the dark, rainy sky, and Santa Barbara’s historic Arlington Theater. 

This particular opening night was also special because my eight-year-old son and occasional collaborator, Jared Winslow, accompanied me and, per his suggestion, we sat in the balcony. 

But in the end, we both enjoyed the night all the more because we enjoyed the film.  It’s a mystery romantic comedy – with a double revelation as the film winds down. 

The brief synopsis of the film that I had read prior to opening night left me confused:  an eleven-year-old girl tries to figure out who her mother is as her soon-to-be-divorced father reveals the story of his past relationships.  Huh? 

(Photo: Abigail Breslin)

For anyone else having trouble deciphering that, here’s the scoop – without giving away spoilers.  Ryan Reynolds (Chaos Theory) stars as Will Hayes and has just been served divorce papers as the film opens.  He picks up his eleven-year-old daughter Maya (Abigail Breslin, Little Miss Sunshine) at school, where she has just sat through a sex education presentation.  Via some frank dialogue (which apparently garners the film its PG-13 rating), this segues to a discussion about her father’s past relationships. 

He finally agrees to talk about his romantic past with her – but with the stipulation that he will change the names of the three women involved.  The three actresses playing those women are Rachael Weisz (The Constant Gardener), Elizabeth Banks (the Spider-Man movies), and Isla Fisher (Wedding Crashers).  One of these women from his past is actually Maya’s mother, the woman Will ended up marrying and from whom he is now getting a divorce. 

Thus, the bulk of the film is actually extended flashback sequences that reveal Will’s life from college graduation to the threshold of marriage.  That life includes the man who becomes his close friend and business partner, Russell McCormack, played by Derek Luke (Glory Road).  

This device of mystery kept Jared’s interest more than if the film had been a typical, straightforward romantic comedy.  Viewers keep wondering which of the three women is in fact Maya’s mother. 

However, in an unexpected and neat twist, there is another revelation after we learn who Maya’s mother and Will’s soon-to-be ex-wife actually is.  This final revelation and its happy closure end the film. 

Often, the casting in a film gives away the plot – ‘of course so-and-so will end up with so-and-so’.  But in this case, the three actresses are more or less equivalent and you just don’t know in advance.  It’s truly ‘Will it be bachelorette #1, bachelorette #2, or bachelorette #3?’ 

For the festival’s opening night and the film’s world premiere, five people from the movie were in attendance.  Writer-director Adam Brooks (co-writer of Wimbledon)  and actors Ryan Reynolds, Derek Luke, Abigail Breslin, and Canadian actress Liane Balaban, who plays Hill’s and McCormack’s Bill Clinton campaign co-worker in the film.

Definitely, Maybe opened on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2008.

(Photo: above) Writer/Director ADAM BROOKS on the set of a romantic comedy about going back to find your happy ending--"Definitely, Maybe". Photo Credit: Andrew Schwartz. Copyright: © 2008 Universal Studios. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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