Saturday, February 16, 2008

Definitely, Maybe Review

This was mercifully different from the typical romantic comedies we see in theaters these days. It's a more serious, though still contrived, love story seen in a series of flashbacks that a man tells his daughter on the eve of his divorce. Ryan Reynolds, in a role far different than his typical comedic junk, is remarkably good here. His character's evolution throughout the story, which spans 16 years, feels real and that's high praise. We feel the ebbs and flows of his life far more effectively than any rom-com in recent memory (probably since Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire). Little Abigail Breslin, of Little Miss Sunshine and No Reservations fame, has the remarkable ability to deliver a bad line. In the film's weakest area, the last twenty or so minutes, Breslin is forced to deliver some unbelievably horrible lines but manages to do it with such genuine emotion and skill that her work is, even still, really emotionally effecting. Isla Fisher, an actress I just didn't get the buzz over based on her work in The Lookout and Wedding Crashers, gives a really nifty performance. She gives a great sense of livewire energy that brings a spark to each of her scenes, without going unpleasantly over the top like in Wedding Crashers. Rachel Weisz is fine, though she doesn't exactly seem to be trying too hard nor does she have much chemistry with Reynolds. Elizabeth Banks is terrible. Pretty, yes, but I've yet to see a performance of hers that I think is any better than meh. Her role here requires more complexity than I think she is capable of giving to a character. I'd really love for this role to have been recast. My other huge problem with the film is the way it sort of devolves in the last twenty minutes. I'm not quite sure what happened but as the film catches up to present day the film really loses steam and the screenplay turns to cliche. Which is really unfortunate after how wonderfully real the film's first 90 or so minutes feel. Speaking of feeling real, a nice touch is how Brooks manages to work in the evolution of culture and music throughout the '90s. It's funny how much it helps with the immersion to see our character's cell phones evolving from when the film picks up in 1992 up until today. Music, news feeds and political jokes all help with the sense of immersion, without ever getting that hammy feel used to depict so many movies set in the '80s. I definitely recommend this for romantic comedy fans and I recommend it, maybe, if you can put up with the flaws to everyone else.

Overall Score: 7/10

No comments: