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Movie Review

Definitely, Maybe a.k.a. “Bien sûr, peut-être,” “Definitivamente, quizás,” “Mindenképpen talán”

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content, including some frank dialogue, language and smoking

Reviewed by: Thaisha Geiger

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens, Adults
Comedy, Romance
1 hr. 45 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
February 14, 2008 (wide—2,200 theaters)
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Universal Pictures

What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer

Sex, Love and Relationships
Learn how to make your love the best it can be. Discover biblical answers to questions about sex, marriage, sexual addictions, and more.
Featuring: Rachel Weisz
The Mummy,” “The Fountain,” “The Constant Gardener
Ryan Reynolds, Isla Fisher, Elizabeth Banks, Abigail Breslin, Kevin Kline, Kevin Corrigan, Derek Luke, Annie Parisse, Nestor Serrano, Sakina Jaffrey, Emily Wickersham, Liane Balaban, Adam Ferrara, Alexie Gilmore, An Nguyen, Cheryl Cosenza, Jaime Tirelli, Orlagh Cassidy, Jason Evans Lee, Jaime Lee Kirchner, Josh Barclay Caras, Keith Patterson, Matt Flanders, Michael Carrara, Daniel Eric Gold, Greg Abbey, Caryn Osofsky, Stephen Richardson, Marc Bonan
Director: Adam Brooks
Wimbledon,” “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason,” “Practical Magic
Producer: Tim Bevan, Liza Chasin, Bobby Cohen, Eric Fellner, Kerry Orent
Distributor: Universal Pictures

“Three relationships. Three disasters.”

“Definitely, Maybe” aims to be a sweet, romantic comedy. Throughout the movie, it succeeds. There were smiling moments and even funny ones. However, Hollywood’s definition of sweet and tender rarely coincide with God’s Word.

The movie opens up with Will Hayes (a convincing Ryan Reynolds) receiving his final divorce papers. After leaving work, he goes to pick up his young daughter Maya (Abigail Breslin) for an overnight visit. Hoping to get her dad to reminiscence about the better times, Maya asks her dad to tell her a story. She wants to know how he met and fell in love with her mother; Will is immediately reluctant. With the much persistence, Will finally agrees, but with his own stipulations. He will start from the very beginning and tell Maya of the three serious women in his life before his marriage. He’ll change their names and some facts. It’ll be Maya’s job to determine which of the three women is her mother.

The story begins in 1992 when Will leaves Madison, Wisconsin to work on the Clinton presidential campaign. We soon meet the three women in his life. We first meet Emily Jones (Elizabeth Banks) Will’s college sweetheart. After this, we’re introduced to the aspiring journalist Summer Hartley (Rachel Weisz). The final corner of the triangle is the free-spirited April. These three women come in and out of Will’s life at different times, making it a little more complicated for Maya to solve the “love story mystery.”

The cast was strong; the script decent for its genre. It was nice to see Ryan Reynolds in a stronger, cleaner film. He shows the expanse of his acting ability as the loving, devoted father. Rachel Weisz, Elizabeth Banks, and Isla Fisher all play their roles excellently. I enjoyed watching how the actress all contributed in making the triangle convincing. One of the film’s charms is how we get to go back to a “time before cell phones and reality television” the year 1992.

People expecting an action movie should not see this film. “Definitely, Maybe” relies on dialogue and character interaction to show what events took place off-screen. Some might consider this movie too slow. This film also tries to cover 17 years into less than two hours. Since it covers the lives of four people, there was not enough room for much character growth. Some viewers might get frustrated with the lack of finish.

I did enjoy how there was no nudity. There were some scenes which the characters were in bed and pre-marital sex is implied. However, they never showed any nudity or actual sex scenes. The kissing scenes were also not graphic, but were tastefully done. Although no scenes were shown, the character’s dialogue allows you to fully know what actions took place off-screen.

Smoking and drinking are frowned upon in this movie. When Maya learned her father smoked and drank heavily, she was upset. He told her how he had been young and stupid at the time. He had since quit. I enjoyed how he showed his growth.

While dating another, Will begins to kiss April. However, he immediately quits and leaves her apartment before fully giving into the temptation. This reminded me of how God promises us that we’ll never be tempted beyond what we can bear. He also promises to always give an exit. In Will’s example, the exit was the front door. In 1 Corinthians 10:13, Paul wrote of this promise:

“…And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand under it.”

This movie has moderate cursing; however, they would congest the uses, making them more obvious. In total I counted 5 sh_, 3 a**, 3, b_ch, 1 b___rd, and 1h*l.

It does use the Lord’s name in vain at least 16 times and Jesus’ name about 5 times.

The film’s main offensiveness is how casually and carelessly sex is used throughout the dialogue. Will’s daughter Maya learns about sexual education in school. She constantly talks about “penises” and “vaginas” throughout the film. She calls her dad a “slut.” She believes her father must have learned he loved her mother when he was about to have sex with another woman. She said it a bit more graphically than I did. Will reads Summer’s journal and reads how she had a lesbian experience with his college sweetheart Emily. When Hayes finally meets Summer, her live-in boyfriend tells Hayes that he’s Summer’s “daddy.” She kisses Hayes and tells him that she likes to give into her curiosities. They also have a lengthy discussion about sex. She tells him on more than one occasion she’d like to “rip his clothes off.” Will’s friend throughout the movie talks about threesomes, foursomes, and how infidelity is merely only a weakness. The interns even toast to a man’s infidelity. They are several more sexual jokes and references. In this film, pre-marital sex is dangerously shown as a normal part of relationships and of life.

It also portrays marriage as an “overly-used consumer product” that most people fail at it. This movie shows divorce is normal and totally appropriate. Even Maya quickly forgot her original mission and wanted her father to be truly happy with another woman. The ending will not satisfy the Christian viewer who knows what God truly commands of marriage. Jesus said,

“I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adulteryMatthew 19:9.

I read other reviews of this movie, and they have been mostly positive. They almost all unanimously commend Ryan Reynolds and the supporting cast. I agree with their praises. However, as a Christian, I cannot recommend this movie to others. The ideals they preach are contrary to Scripture. The saturation of sex throughout the dialogue and plot will be insulting to most believers. In the end, God tells his children to stay pure. This movie does not help us do that.

Violence: None / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Mild

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—My husband and I read over the negative reviews (as we always do before we see a movie) on this Web site and decided to give the movie a try anyway. We are conservative Christians and still both enjoyed the movie, we were confused why this movie received so many bad reviews. I think what pretty much earned this movie such bad reviews from Christians was them feeling uncomfortable with an older child’s curiosity in sex, which only makes up maybe 10 minutes of the movie, at the most.

The daughter talking briefly about what she learned in sex ed in school was brief and humorous, it was a child simply asking questions about sex we did not find it distasteful. Unfortunately, they do teach sex ed in public schools and this was displayed in the movie, to me it was just showing real life and once again this was also very brief and not too bad.

It was wrong of the father to tell his daughter details of his relationship with different women and his wife’s inappropriate actions.

If anything this movie was CLEANER THAN MOST PG-13 MOVIES there was no violence, no nudity and no sex scenes. I thought overall this movie was pretty funny and a cute love story. I would recommend others watch it for themselves, if you find yourself that offended you can always turn it off.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Christina, age 25


Negative—I attended with a group from church—several of us walked out only after lingering longer than we would have, in an attempt to give the film a chance to get better and less offensive at some point, and to not come across as judging others. Offensive items included:

—a significant portion of time is given to a too descriptive and overly specific sexual information given to a 10 year old in school (who repeats it back in detailed questioning to her father), including repeated references to male and female genitals.

—disrespectful daughter and weak father role demonstrated (demanding daughter insists on information about her father’s life before marrying her mother—he concedes and gives her a detailed account of his sexual past which includes: discussions about women touching and kissing, “threesomes” being games adults play when they are bored, and a young promiscuous woman having a sexual relationship with a 70 year old.

I cannot comment further because at that point I walked out. Based on what I did see, I strongly recommend not viewing this movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—Cathy, age 50
Negative—Don’t waste your money on this movie! My husband and I thought we were going to see a sweet romantic comedy because of the advertisements we had seen on TV. In the very beginning the little girl graphically talks about sex many times, sexual references were made constantly and the story really dragged. My husband and I finally got sick of it and walked out. Another couple walked out when we did with their little girl. They were also disgusted with this movie. Maybe the movie eventually gets better but I’m so disappointed that Hollywood thinks they have to throw all that immorality into a movie like that. It’s not worth my time to sit through all that junk to get to a “feel good” ending.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 1
—Charla, age 54
Negative—This movie is really quite boring. The trailer suggests that it is cute and comedic, but there is not much comedy. This is a romantic drama about a man who fails at all his relationships. The subject of sex is treated very flippantly, both in words and in actions. The story has a fairly original premise—a father tells his daughter about his past loves as a story, and his daughter tries to guess which of the loves ends up being her mother. But that is not enough to recommend this movie. It promotes the already rampant callousness toward sex and marriage.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
Halyna Barannik, age 61
Negative—This COULD have been a cute film, but all it did was leave a bad taste in my mouth. Right from the get go there was talk of sex from a child no less, using very explicit language; it didn’t stop. Everyone was sleeping with everyone else throughout the whole movie. No biggie, no consequences. It was just called “rehearsing.” The story left me dizzy and disappointed that I paid over $8 to see what I was hoping to be a cute Valentine’s Day romantic comedy.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Debbie, age 32
Negative—Here’s the scoop. I took my wife to see this so-called chick flick for our 39th wedding anniversary. We’ve been together so long, we can literally read each other’s mind. In the first few minutes of the movie, I realized that the movie had an agenda more than a romantic story. Here’s my take: The school’s are teaching sex openly in this little girl’s world by the language she used. She showed tremendous lack of respect for her dad. Ok, so I sound old-fashioned, but the movie industry is gradually numbing us to immorality, foul language, disrespect and etc. I noticed Bill Clinton’s face in the liberal headquarters, who constantly reminds me of infidelity. When the posters of Reagan and Bush were shown in the movie, they looked evil. It appeared to be another liberal agenda in a movie. In less than 15 minutes I looked at my wife and I knew what she was thinking. We got up and left the movie. By the way, we had a wonderful romantic encounter that evening! Christians, when are we going to stop putting this garbage in our minds? Let’s be better watchmen.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Denis, age 58
Negative—Not a movie for children. In the opening of the movie, the 10 year old girl talks about learning in her sex education class at school talks about learning that a man “thrusts his penis into a vagina.” The main plot is the newly (hours after signing papers) divorced father tells his daughter a story of how he and her mother met.

During the story, the plot of the movie he discloses that:

- his daughter’s mother slept with his roommate (which was presented as too bad, but “normal” and something to be accepted)

- his daughter’s mother had a lesbian liaison with another woman (which was presented as “normal,” just news to him)

- he actively involves his daughter in meeting the one woman that he thinks he “really loved” all the time

- the marriage to the child’s mother is presented as an encumbrance, a detail that simply impeded him from being with the woman he “really loved” all the time (which was presented as “normal”)

- the child is played as a small adult, with no emotional repercussions stemming from the brand new divorce and no trauma, about being told intimate details about her parents lives and relationships

The messages that children are able to bounce back instantly, or should be burdened with adult complexities of relationships, or should hear personal details about their parents’ sex lives—especially told by the other parent—is wildly inappropriate. While it may assuage guilt for some who treat children like small adults, this movie clearly tried to “normalize” poor parental behaviors without regard for the child’s best interests.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Cheryl P, age 40
Negative—My husband rented this thinking it would be a cute romantic comedy. After about 20 minutes we turned it off, it was extrememy offensive to us. I can’t believe they have rated this allowable for a teen!! Should have been R and I would highly recommend parents researching movies well before giving their kids permission to see any. Even for us, I usually check the comments before watching and this time I hadn’t. The reviews I read on Christian review were all negative, I should have looked it up sooner. We don’t agree with many of the issues in the movie and could see it was continuing in a negative direction and didn’t want to conitinue filling our minds and hearts with something that is very far from how we believe we are to live. Don’t waste your money!!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Carol, age 40
Negative—I found this movie awful. My boyfriend walked out of the room and I soon followed after. First off he is telling his young daughter about cheating and sexual things. I couldn’t watch much of it. Frankly, I should of turned it off sooner. His daughter learns of sex and then continues to talk about without the father reprimanding her. Then he goes on to talk about the three loves of his life. In talking about these loves he tells her how he kissed other girls while with the first one not telling her how it was wrong. He tells her about smoking and threesomes. And I turned it off soon after. I wish I had looked up the reviews for this because that was a waste of money.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Marie, age 18
Negative—Terrible! I turned the movie off after 15 minutes. Very distasteful and very offensive. People, you need to read these reviews before going to see these movies! That way you won’t be embarassed in front of your dates and waste your money! I’m beginning to feel like the only clean movies to watch are the Disney movies.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 1
—J.p., age 48
Negative—I rented this movie because I’ve seen Abigail Breslin in some other movies and thought she was an enjoyable actress. However, the small parts of the movie she was actually in were difficult to watch. I kept waiting for her to act like and be treated like a child, and that never happened. Somehow we were to believe she was the most mature person in the movie.

Thankfully, I saw this movie by myself after everyone else had gone to sleep (to see if it was OK for the family). I did manage to make it through the movie, but only out of morbid curiosity. By 2/3 of the way through, I didn’t care WHICH woman was Maya’s mom (they are all losers), and didn’t think he deserved to be with any of them (or anyone else). He didn’t have any more of a clue what true love was at the end of the movie than he did at the beginning, and his relationship with his “true love” is just as doomed as the relationship that just ended.

Because my 12 year old daughter is very mature and well grounded in her relationship with Christ, I MIGHT have consider having her watch this as an object lesson in how NOT to live your life or treat relationships. However, considering how DEPRESSED I was after it was over, I don’t think I will subject her (or anyone else) to it.

Thank God this is not the way He intends our lives to be.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Ken Nichols, age 46 (USA)
Comments from young people
Negative—This movie started out as the Christians worst nightmare. In the beginning, we learn that the main character’s daughter has taken a sex ed class… in elementary. She constantly uses sexual terms and her father doesn’t do much to stop her. Throughout the movie, pre-marital sex is considered normal and more common than marriage. Sex and language is thrown at you through the entirety of the movie. It goes against God’s wishes for sex to be a bonding time during marriage. The movie shows no purity. I haven’t ever actually severely disliked a movie, so this movie was pretty bad. I couldn’t leave the theater because I was at my best friend’s birthday party, so I just kept going to the bathroom. I would not recommend this movie to ANYONE… ever.

The only good thing in this movie was the fact that the man’s daughter got mad about him smoking and drinking; he said he had been young and stupid at the time. Unfortunately, he remained in the dark as far as relationships go. And people wonder why teens think sex is okay… they are seeing these movies.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Hilary, age 16
Positive—I thought this movie was very cute and enjoyed it a lot. I think that it is ridiculous that people are getting upset over the words vagina and penis being used because, mainly because my mother delivers babys for a living, are commonplace around my house. my sisters and I have said them since we were potty-trained they really are not at all offensive…

next I would like to say that, although I do not like that the father is getting a divorce, it is a reality which makes it relatable to many people, which is why it was included. all in all, the story is a cute love story that is enjoyable for adults and kids old enough to understand sex.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Kathryn, age 16
Positive—I was thoroughly surprised by this movie, I don’t usually really like chick flicks but I completely enjoyed this one. It isn’t predictable, the acting was exceptional and all the characters were very likable. I found the story to be pretty original too.

There isn’t a lot of language, though the sexual content is probably too mature for younger audiences. I’d recommend it for 14 and up. Overall, a great movie!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Linda, age 17
Movie Critics
…An unusually soulful and appealing romantic comedy, ‘Definitely, Maybe’ is the perfect antidote to the raucous lowbrow vulgarity that has come to define the genre in the 21st century. …
—Screen International
…defies predictable rom-com experience… a well-conceived love story that doesn’t insult your intelligence. Seriously. …
—Christa Banister, Crosswalk
…manages to be cute without sending viewers barrelling into the bathroom to toss their cookies. … Breslin’s cutie-pie daughter quickly becomes the real heart of the story…
—Paul Arendt, BBC Films
…an intriguing ‘chick’ flick I think guys will enjoy along with their ladies. …
—Phil Boatwright, Preview Family Movie and TV Review
…immensely attractive and appealing cast… it falls somewhere between a mass audience crowd-pleaser and a literate class act…
—Stephen Farber, The Hollywood Reporter
…a melancholic account of baby boomer angst… film pulls in too many directions to be fully successful…
—Xan Brooks, The Guardian