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'Definitely, Maybe'

A bedtime-story request leads soon-to-be-divorced Will Hayes (Ryan Reynolds) to tell 11-year-old Maya (Abigail Breslin) how he met her mom. He frames the tale as a mystery: Maya has to guess which of the three serious romances he had while working on Bill Clinton's '92 election campaign ended in matrimony and a daughter.

With three attractive possibilities — a college sweetheart (Elizabeth Banks), a campaign co-worker (Isla Fisher) and an aspiring writer (Rachel Weisz) — the story keeps the audience guessing as well. Reynolds' perpetually-dumped Will is an appealing if unorthodox romantic lead, but his romantic misadventures turn repetitive as he shuttles from one dumper to the next — and as an overly contrived script requires him to make tactical mistakes more intriguing to an 11-year-old than to adult moviegoers.

Dialogue that doesn't quite zing, music that's increasingly overbearing and pacing that sags after the first hour all lend the film a second-hand air. Sweet, but definitely less-than-stellar, maybe because it feels so calculated.

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Bob Mondello, who jokes that he was a jinx at the beginning of his critical career — hired to write for every small paper that ever folded in Washington, just as it was about to collapse — saw that jinx broken in 1984 when he came to NPR.