Carly at the Movies column by Carl Larsen
The uncertainly titled “Definitely, Maybe,” currently playing almost everywhere in the universe, has all the makings of a successful 1940s romantic comedy. And even though most of the movie critics loved it, it’s still definitely, maybe, not so hot.
You’ve got a cute guy, some cute gals, a cute kid, a gorgeous location, a dumb-head story line that only occasionally gets in the way – hey, what more do you want? Sounds like something with June Haver and Dick Haymes, a B-rom/com with maybe the Harry James orchestra and a few MGM stock players like “Cuddles” Sakall thrown in for comic relief. It woulda worked just fine, then.
Unfortunately, that was then, and this is now.
So the lead guy turns out to be played by Ryan Reynolds, a thirtysomething Canadian actor who – get this – is just too freakin’ good looking to be believable. Even in the script, he’s referred to as “boyishly handsome.” So you know that, even though he’s romancing three beautiful women throughout this film, all this character would have to do is walk down the block, and he’d have another dozen young cuties hanging all over him. And I’m supposed to care about HIS problems?
And that’s only the beginning of this films trouble.
It’s set up so that adorable Abigail Breslin, playing his daughter, wants to know all about his love life before she was born. So he tells her, and we’re supposed to guess which of three women – Elizabeth Banks, Isla Fisher, or Rachel Weisz – ends up being Abigail’s mommy. As she puts it, it’s a “mystery love story.”
So through an endless series of flashbacks, we meet the three candidates and this too-good-looking-guy’s not-so-tough life as a Clinton-era political worker while he decides which stunning gal he wants. What a problem! Poor baby!
Well, Elizabeth Banks is pleasant and next-doorish, and Rachel Weisz is exotic and New Yorkish, but Isla Fisher just doesn’t survive the cut. Unfortunately, she’s a dead ringer for lovely Amy Adams (the red-hot star of “Junebug” and “Enchanted”) and, shucks, there’s only really room for one of them in the real world of Hollywood.
Fans of Kevin Kline (and we are legion) will be disappointed to know that he’s sort of hanging around the film, too, and not really put to much use. A waste.
So what we have here is a failure to communicate any empathy for anyone on screen. Even the kid has life way too good. And, of course, the setting is just one great big advertisement for the New York City Tourist Bureau. EVERYone, rich or poor, has a quaint, airy apartment, and everywhere you look things are perfect. No trash, no street people, just Central Park in summer and lah-de-dah.
Nowadays, romantic comedies have a completely different formula. The guy’s got to look like us real guys do: overweight, plain and slightly stupid. The girl, on the other hand, can be almost any star in Hollywood as long as she’s Katherine Heigl.
“Definitely, Maybe” is also way too long and becomes quite tedious as our hero springs from babe to babe like a sing-along bouncing ball. Abigail Breslin, star of “Little Miss Sunshine,” is the only relief, and by the time we find out which of the three beauties is mommy, it’s too late. We no longer care. So unless you can get your mind into a 1940s Technicolor musical frame of mind, I’d suggest you just skip this strip of eye candy, put on an old Harry James album, sit back, and remember the good old days.
Meanwhile, back at the Dixie:
Don’t miss it! Best movie of the year, no matter what those Academy Award idiots say! Yep, it’s “Juno,” the most delightful, thought-provoking film of last year, still at the Dixie for your enjoyment.
Carl Larsen is a regular contributor to The Augusta Free Press. Look for his At the Movies column on Mondays.