"Definitely, Maybe" DVD Review
June 06, 2008 by Zach Demeter
How many romantic comedies can be made before they all start becoming a tired repeat of the same old story? We’ve been asking that question or awhile and Hollywood continues to churn out horrible excuses for romantic comedies over the years but every once and awhile it lays its cards down and surprises us that it had not only been bluffing that it didn’t know how to make original romantic comedies anymore, but that it was, indeed, holding back a straight flush this entire time. Well, maybe not “entire” time, but with so many cookie cutter repeats over the years, Definitely, Maybe is a surprisingly refreshing take on the whole romantic comedy angle…and one that has more than a few quirks along the way.
After a very graphic and detailed day at school where the young students learned about the reproductive system, political consultant Will Hayes (Ryan Reynolds) is coerced by his daughter, Maya (Abigail Breslen), to explain to her about all of his past relationships and just why he and her mom are no longer getting along. Hesitant at first, Will eventually gives in and begins telling his daughter the story of all of his past loves—but not by name or with all of the same facts. After the story begins, it’s up to Maya to discern exactly who is her mother from the facts that Will gives out.
I’ll admit I went into this film thinking it’d be another generic romantic comedy and quite honestly the trailer pants it in a different light than what we’re actually given in the film. From the way it was set up it appeared that the film would be about a young girl setting her father up with multiple women but in retrospect it was a flashback for nearly the entire film. This immediately set a different tone for the picture, as it wasn’t going to be about a story about a dad who couldn’t commit, but about one who wanted to commit too much.
Unlike a lot of other romantic comedies of late, I found myself rather engaged in the stories that Will was telling. The occasional throw backs to Will and Maya talking in her bedroom to clarify or react to something he’d said were neatly placed and progression through the years and various stories meant it was a very detailed timeline of the women that Will loved. We’re thrown a few curveballs here and there which keep the story exciting to watch and when we’re completely thrown back into current time, it feels like the film slams on the breaks as it dials down the tension and discussion on more than a few levels.
Even though the break from story felt like it hit a brick wall at a high speed, it did aid the film in its ability to expound on certain elements that we’d not heard discussed previously. While Maya’s sudden revelation of how she knew which one her mother was came rather randomly, it wasn’t as big of a leap as it initially seems; it is her mother, after all, and it seems natural that she’d pick up on the subtleties that Will describes in the stories.
The various relationships Will has in the film are all entertaining in their own right, especially since we get to see how they were formed and how each one of them ends. While it’s easy to figure out the story for yourself, I found myself watching it with such a carefree attitude that I actually didn’t want the big revelation to be ruined by my own deductions, so I ended up glossing over some details or specifics that I otherwise would have picked up.
It’s remarkable to me just how much I enjoyed this film. I’m far from its target audience, but it was still a remarkably fun affair, with Ryan Reynolds and Abigail Breslin providing some of the most charming father/daughter interaction that I’ve seen on screen, while Elisabeth Banks, Rachel Weisz and Isla Fischer all sparkled as the many loves of Will. With plenty of commentary from Breslin about Will’s days as a “slut”, the film remains lighthearted and a wee bit edgier than one would expect with an eleven-year-old-girl in the mix. In fact it’s her dialogue that is often the most shocking, which also makes it all that much funnier.
Overall Definitely, Maybe is a smart and cute little picture that’ll often have you smiling and crying at the same time. It’s not nearly as big of a “chick flick” as one would be originally led to believe and quite honestly I think it has elements that will be just as appealing to men as women. It’s a really nicely done film in all respects and one that comes Recommended.
While the film comes in standard packaging, disc art and menu layout, the hosts of extras that accompany it are rather surprising. There are no insert or slipcover on this release and the disc art is the usual plain Universal fair, but everything else about this disc is a pleasant surprise (like the film). Video is a clean and clear transfer that remains crisp in all the right moments and offers a solid level of clarity throughout. Audio is understandably front-focused, with a few of the more celebratory elements of the film kicking into the surrounds. Overall this is a fine technical transfer that doesn’t hurt the enjoyment of the film in anyway.
For the extras we are first met with a full-length commentary with director Adam Brooks and star Ryan Reynolds. The pair is a joy to listen to, with Ryan making plenty of jokes for the viewer to listen to along the way, as well as commenting on what it was like to work with the many women of the film, including the young Breslin. Brooks offers up some technical details here and there, but all in all it’s a solid and easy listen. If you enjoyed the film, and can credit most of the enjoyment to Reynolds, then be sure to check this track out.
Moving on we have a small selection of deleted scenes (5:43) all of which…are rather strange. None of them seem to fit into the overall cut of the film in the least and I honestly feel like some were part of a bigger story that was never even filmed. There’s no commentary on the individual scenes so it’s hard to comment on what they were about, but as is they’re a rather awkward thing to watch as they have little to know back-story.
“Creating a Romance” (12:30), which, if you didn’t know by the packaging, menu or intro this extra, is presented to us by Volkswagen. I don’t know why it is, since there’s no abundance of cars or advertising by Volkswagen that I noticed in the film, but I guess we’ve gotten to the point to selling advertising space on DVD extras. In any case, “Creating a Romance” is a general making-of with cast and crew commentary. We hear from virtually everyone of the actors here, which makes for a nice, well-rounded featurette. Finally we have “The Changing Times of Definitely, Maybe” (5:09), a short little piece on the various time periods in the film. It’s actually kind cool to see how far they went in some cases to make everything gel with the proper time periods. Giant cell phones included!
That wraps up the extras for this release and all in all this is a solid release. Like the film it comes Recommended, although I don’t know how much replay value it has once you know the outcome. Granted it’s a bit predictable anyway, but it’s still a cute little piece regardless.
Definitely, Maybe arrives on DVD on June 24th.