Absolutely, Positively

Ryan Reynolds and Isla Fisher

Sandwiched somewhere between the American Spirit commercials and the Clinton campaigning that make up Definitely, Maybe is a surprisingly rewarding romantic comedy. Imagine, really, old-school Woody Allen starring that shit-eating smirker from Van Wilder, Ryan Reynolds. If this isn't exactly Annie Hall or Manhattan, the mere fact it aspires to those heights is worth a celebration of some kind. The film is told almost entirely in flashback, as ad-man Will (Reynolds) recounts for his daughter Maya (Abigail Breslin) the story of how he met his now-ex-wife and Maya's mother — who might either be his Wisconsin college girlfriend (Elizabeth Banks), the Xerox girl in Bill Clinton's '92 New York campaign HQ (Isla Fisher), or the would-be writer (Rachel Weisz) shacked up with a cranky prof (Kevin Kline). Over the course of a couple of hours, Will and these three bright, beautiful women keep crossing paths — as lovers, as disappointments, as what-coulda-beens, as what-might-bes. Writer-director Adam Brooks, whose French Kiss screenplay was as tony and old-fashioned a romance as Hollywood has made in 20 years, grounds the movie in the up-and-down everyday. As sweet and silly as the film can get, it ultimately just shrugs and says, "Do your best, expect the worst, and you'll muddle through." Which seems awfully ... revolutionary?

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