Wednesday, February 14, 2018

How I Met Your Mother

Defintely, Maybe
Director: Adam Brooks
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Abigail Breslin, Elizabeth Banks, Rachel Weisz, Isla Fisher, Derek Luke, Kevin Kline
Released: February 14, 2008
Viewed in theaters: March 13, 2008

This is a cute movie about a father (Will, played by Ryan Reynolds) telling his daughter (Maya, played by Abigail Breslin) the story of how he met her mother who we also learn will soon be his ex-wife. It kind of plays in the same way as The Princess Bride where a young kid is being told a bedtime story and we see the story being told as well as flashbacks to the present moment so we can get commentary from the person hearing the story. Of course, the only difference is that this is a true story being told! Maya tells her dad that she wants the real story of how he met her mother and not just the basic "we met, we fell in love and got married and had you". He agrees to tell her, but is going to change the names so Maya has to guess who her mother is in the story. There are three women who are candidates to be her mother: a blonde, a brunette, and a redhead. While Will tells her the story, Maya keeps track of the women and crosses a name off once it is apparent that she cannot be her mother.

Now it's been ten years since I've seen this movie so I didn't remember who the mother was, but I did make my predictions after we met all the women and I was right. (Don't worry, I'll give you a warning before I spoil the movie). Now it could be I did subconsciously remember who she was, but it's not brain surgery to figure it out...they don't make it into a big complicated mystery. I correctly guessed who Maya's mother was and I correctly guessed who Will was really meant to be with, but that left one woman remaining and I couldn't remember what her storyline was.

Will starts his story in 1992 when he was a college student (and they make Reynolds and the other cast members look younger by giving them different hairstyles) and had a serious college girlfriend, Emily (Elizabeth Banks). They both live in Wisconsin, but he moves to New York for two months to work on the Clinton campaign because of his passion for politics. They both try to make the long-distance relationship work, but it isn't easy. However, despite the difficulties he decides to propose to Emily when she comes to visit him only to find out that she slept with his roommate back in Wisconsin. She tells him that she doesn't want to hold him back and that they don't share the same future. Maya crosses Emily's name off the list. But will Emily come back into the story in the future?

Another candidate for Maya's mom is April (Isla Fisher) who works the copy machine for the campaign. Will thinks he's met someone who is a Clinton supporter but we quickly learn that she doesn't care about politics and doesn't identify as a Democrat or Republican and is just doing the gig for the money. They run into each other later where Will finds out it's April's birthday and she was supposed to be with her boyfriend, but he ditched her. He takes her to a party she was invited to as a friendly gesture. This is the day before he proposes to Emily and April wants to know how he's going to propose so they role play. She is very touched by his genuine words and realizes how lucky Emily is. Her response after he fake proposes to her is, "Defintely Maybe! I have to think about it." So there's where we get the title. I'm not too crazy about the title; it isn't one that really sticks with you. How I Met Your Mother would have been a better title, but I think that one was taken at the time! (In fact, I wondered if the TV series inspired the plot for this movie which is a lot less convoluted than the TV show).

They go back to April's apartment which doesn't seem like such a good idea since they both have significant others and April even comments how it's nice that they don't have to worry about flirting and being attracted to each other since they are both already in relationships, but then they start making out because they ARE attracted to each other. However they quickly realize what they're doing is wrong and Will leaves quickly. In a later scene, they both decide that even if they were both single, they would never work out and are much better off as friends.

The final candidate for Maya's mother is Summer (Rachel Weisz) who is an old friend of Emily's (who Will has never met) and Emily wants Will to deliver her a package (which we later find out is a diary detailing a brief fling the two women had together). Summer is a journalist who is dating an older man, a well-regarded writer, Hampton Roth (Kevin Kline). She kisses Will the first time they meet which I thought came off a little too strongly and says she only did it because she was "curious".

Two years past and we learn that April is traveling around the world, something she's always wanted to do and she and Will keep a strong friendship as she sends many postcards to him. Will attends a reading from Hampton Roth and runs into Summer. Interestingly enough she is wearing glasses and in an earlier scene Will tells his friends he is attracted to brunettes with glasses (although his first serious girlfriend was a blonde). By this time Will is now running another campaign (for the governor of New York) and Summer writes an article about the candidate which everybody loves. There is a strong attraction between Will and Summer and out of the three possible women who could be Maya's mother, she is the one who is the most aggressive with Will...even before they start dating, even more so than his ex-girlfriend! We get a montage of them being lovey-dovey and starting to date, although I don't think she every broke up with Hampton, though something tells me they weren't mutual.

Will plans to propose to Summer but those plans are dashed when she tells him she was asked to write a follow-up piece on the man running for governor and it turns out he did a political favor for a friend in jail, allowing him to have early parole. Having this published will no doubt ruin his chances to win and Will tells her that he doesn't care if the story is leaked, but he doesn't want Summer to leak the story. He knows it won't look good if the speechwriter's girlfriend brings down the candidate. She tells him that she already sent in the article and they break up. Maya crosses her name off the list. This should leave April as the obvious choice. We see her return to New York and reunite with Will and it's obvious she has feelings for him, but this is right before he plans to ask Summer to marry him. When April finds out he is planning to ask Summer to marry him, she is shocked and angry because Will never told her this and she just thought they were dating and didn't realize how serious it was, but tells him she is happy for him.

A few more years pass and it is 1997. By this time we should be figuring out who the mother is pretty soon. Maya is 10-years-old (according to Wikipedia) and it is "current day" 2008, thus making her born in 1998. He hasn't talked to April in all those years, but they reconnect and she tells him she's dating a guy named Kevin. Will confesses that he's in love with her and she asks him why he never told her and he tells her that she would never be interested in him. Rightly, this makes April angry because it's been pretty obvious she has feelings for him (even Maya knows it!) but he was too oblivious to see it. She tells him she doesn't want him professing his love for her when he's a mess and he further angers her by insulting her for working at a bookstore and tells her she needs "life rehab". Ouch. April pulls a Clint Eastwood from Gran Torino and tells him, "Get off my front porch" before walking inside. Needless to say, things don't end well for them and Maya crosses her name off the list. So now all three women's names have been crossed who is the mother? Though I know because I predicted it several scenes ago.

Okay, even though you may have already figured out who the mother is, I'm going to go ahead and post my SPOILER WARNING for the rest of this review! Read at your own risk!

Will runs into a very pregnant Summer and Maya is horrified that she is the baby and that Will isn't even her father...which doesn't make any sense because if she WAS that baby, then Will wouldn't even be her father, thus wouldn't be in her life. Oh, wait. Unless she thinks Will and Summer still got married (obviously it didn't work out with the father of Summer's baby) and Will isn't her biological father. I guess that makes more sense. She decides she does not want Summer to be the mother. She tells her dad if she does turn out to be the mother, she's moving away to Canada and she's not kidding! (Spoiler alert: Summer is NOT the mother so Will doesn't have to worry about a runaway daughter!) Out of the three women they make Summer the least likable so right away I knew she wasn't going to make the cut. Emily and April aren't without their faults (the former cheated on him and the latter smoked), but they do have redeeming qualities.

There is a huge plot point from the April storyline that comes into play around this time. At her apartment before they start making out, she tells Will why she has so many copies of Jane Eyre and tells him a touching but depressing story of how she wanted a pair of earrings for her 13th birthday but received a copy of the novel with an inscription her dad wrote inside. She lost or misplaced the book and desperately wanted it back when her father died three weeks later in a car accident and has ever since been collecting copies of Jane Eyre with inscriptions inside of them while looking for her copy. This is why she eventually gets a job at a bookstore. This plot reminded me of Serendipity where John Cusack is looking for the book Kate Beckinsale wrote her name and number in and sold to a random bookshop. Well, guess what? Will is looking for the book, knowing how much he messed up with April and wants to make it up to her. He eventually does stumble across it and there is a very touching inscription written to "My darling daughter April" from her father. Will goes to give it to April. She isn't home, but her boyfriend Kevin, who she's been with for a while now, is. Will takes the book and leaves. Why he didn't leave it there, I don't understand. I'm sure April would have been thrilled and would have called him. But it just isn't meant to be.

In the present day of the story being told, Maya gets upset when her dad reassures her there is a happy ending to the story and she doesn't understand how that can be when he's getting divorced from her mom. Too upset to go on listening to the story, she falls asleep and they continue the story the next morning when they go out for breakfast. It turns out Will attended a party hosted by Summer and guess who is there? Emily! She moved to New York after getting a job. And she and Will start a new romance and get married, thus making Emily the mother. The very first woman we meet is the mother; how do you like that? We get a cute scene where her mother is walking towards them and Maya hugs her and says, "I'm so glad it's you!" and her mom replies with, "Who else would it be?" Will tells his daughter the story has a happy ending because of her. Awwwww.

We find out Emily's actual name is Sara and when I went back to re-watch some of the scenes on Netflix, I paused on the journal entry they show Summer paging through when Will gives it to her. I noticed one of the sentences written is "School started, saw Sara. She is so cool". (This is supposed to be written by some great writer?) Anyway, I thought it was clever that they used the character's REAL name in the journal entry because it goes by in such a flash the only way you can catch it is if you pause the screen. But then I read the rest of the entry and the name Emily is used. Yes, it's true when Will's friend (Derek Luke) is reading the entry to him he uses the name "Emily" but that's because how it's being told in the story. They should have stuck with writing "Sara" for the journal entry. It would have been a fun Easter egg. And even if you do catch it while watching the movie, it's not going to spoil anything because you don't know the mother's real name is Sara. (And by the way, I appreciate that they spelled it correctly, haha, or at least the not so common way!)

So now that we know Emily, excuse me, Sara, is the mother, Will decides it's time to make amends with April, the woman who probably would have been Maya's mother if things had worked out between them. They just never seemed to get the timing right: he was always with someone else or she was with someone else and oh, the fact that he majorly insulted her. We also find out that Will never changed April's name in the story (Summer's real name was Natasha).

Will stops by April's work to give her the book and she is delighted, but when he tells her he's had it for "years" (10 to be precise!) she is not happy and asks him to leave. Maybe he shouldn't have told her that, but I guess you don't want to start a relationship off with a big lie. But don't worry, later that night he and Maya go to April's apartment to apologize and at the last second April forgives him and we know a romance will soon start between them.

So everyone in this movie gets a happy ending except for Summer/Natasha. Will has an adorable daughter and ends up with the love of his life. Maya has a loving mother and father and will soon have a cool stepmom. Emily/Sara has an adorable daughter. April gets her guy and will soon have an adorable stepdaughter. And Summer gets...nothing. Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

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