Richard Curtis would surely be wanting words with writer-director Adam Brooks had this not come out of his own Working Title stable. You wouldn’t be surprised if Curtis has had a touch on this film, which relocates his stumbling, cosy self-regard to New York, where ad exec Will (Ryan Reynolds) is on the brink of divorce.
When his young daughter (Abigail Breslin) asks how he met her mother, Will recounts the none-too-wild romantic misdemeanours of his twenties as she tries to guess which of the three women – he’s changed their names – is her mother. Is it plain-Jane college sweetheart Elizabeth Banks? Ambitious journalist Rachel Weisz? Or his slacker friend Isla Fisher?
‘Definitely, Maybe’ is not as clever as it thinks it is, or as funny, but is likeable enough (though the uncharismatic Reynolds is outclassed by his leading ladies, particularly Weisz and a sparky Fisher). There’s a timely political angle, with Reynolds coming to New York as an idealistic graduate to work on the ’92 Clinton campaign.
It’s easy-access stuff, Gennifer Flowers with her hairspray fringe on the TV and Bush Jr on the news talking with all the eloquence of a ball-player doing match analysis. When Will makes the final public-ish declaration of love (very Richard Curtis), Brooks resists the stickiest of his three possible endings, for which we must be grateful. That said, I couldn’t help feeling that here is a man who hasn’t found his dolphin, but simply run out of options. Which is a terrifically unromantic and very depressing thought.