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Universal Pictures

Or maybe not

Movies | Definitely, Maybe demands far too much from a little actress

Issue: "The Road to Cana," Feb. 23, 2008

Poor Abigail Breslin. The pint-sized actress is so preternaturally self-possessed that she keeps getting put in onscreen situations outside her age range. In Little Miss Sunshine she did a striptease routine, and now in Definitely, Maybe she is exposed to her onscreen father's sexploits and misadventures in the name of romantic comedy.

The film is often adept and surprisingly funny, but it loses charm points for a plot that shadows the NBC series How I Met Your Mother and for its inability to screen adult content in front of its young protagonist.

Definitely, Maybe (rated PG-13 for sexual content and language) begins with Will Hayes (Ryan Reynolds) getting served divorce papers and picking up his 10-year-old daughter Maya (Breslin) from school to find that she has been exposed to sex education.

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Disturbed by her newfound willingness to discuss the sexual anatomy of the human species, he is even more unnerved by her desire to hear about his sex life before she was born. But he then proceeds to spill all the gory details.

The story features three women whom Will considered as life mates, and it manages some very sweet and funny scenes. Reynolds excels at quick, witty banter, and all three female leads (Isla Fisher, Elizabeth Banks, Rachel Weisz) put in strong performances-though Banks cannot seem to stop looking like a female "Baxter."

But Definitely, Maybe does such a good job of camouflaging its denouement that the women fail to stand out. Will Hayes may love his daughter, but he makes his wife seem like an afterthought. And by the end, little Maya is enthusiastically trying to help him find love with another woman.

For all of the hoops that Definitely, Maybe makes this child jump through, this is the most unbelievable. There is no 10-year-old able to detach herself from her mother enough to set up her father with another woman. Not even Abigail Breslin is that self-possessed.

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