Story

Disenchanted advertising executive Will Hayes (Ryan Reynolds) attempts to explain his impending divorce to his young daughter, Maya (Abigail Breslin). He tells her the story of how he met her mother. Will disguises the characters so that Maya will have to guess which of the three main women in her father’s youth becomes his wife and her mother.

Emily (Elizabeth Banks) was Will’s college sweetheart and they appeared to have ‘a plan’ that included marriage in the not-too-distant future. However the plan went awry after Will accepted a position in New York and Emily slept with his old roommate.

In New York, Will met Summer Hartley (Rachel Weisz). While buying an engagement ring for her, he ran into April (Isla Fisher) with whom he had had a previous relationship. April was still in love with Will. By the time Will realised he also loved April and ended his engagement to Summer, April was in a relationship with someone else.

At the end of Will’s story, Maya accurately guesses which woman is her mother. However, the storytelling doesn’t have the result that Maya had hoped it would have. It doesn’t help her parents reignite their feelings or help them understand why they loved each other so much in the first place. It does, however, give her father some perspective and encourage him to do something that he should have done years earlier.

Themes

Relationship breakdown and divorce

Violence

There is some violence in this movie, including a scene in which Will throws a box of noodles at a television screen. In another scene, Will angrily smashes his beer bottle on the side of April’s doorstep.

Content that may disturb children

From 8-13

Apart from the violent scene mentioned above, children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film.

Over 13

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie. For example:

  • Maya’s class has a detailed sex education lesson at school. The conversations she has with her dad following these classes include numerous descriptive references to intercourse including how ‘the penis is thrust into the vagina’ and the journey of the sperm.
  • Will reads Summer’s diary, including details of her ‘experimentation’ with Emily one summer at university.
  • We learn that Emily sleeps with Will’s old roommate.
  • References are made to Will’s ‘threesome’ with Emily and Summer.
  • Summer discusses her sexual relationship with Hampton Roth, who is apparently a sexual expert.
  • Will is told that he has seductive eyes and wears clothes that women want to rip from his body.
  • April tells how she walked away from a ‘hot guy’ in Greece by first ‘removing his hand from her ass’.

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

There is some use of substances in this movie. For example:

  • There is frequent smoking of cigarettes including a debate and test to see which brand is best.
  • There is frequent drinking of beer, wine and champagne.
  • Will passes out after drinking with the professor.
  • Will gets drunk at his birthday party.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie. For example:

  • Will tells a man that his fly is down and that he should really wear some underwear.
  • The Professor answers the door wearing nothing but an open robe.
  • Summer and Will are apparently naked beneath the sheets and talk about spending the day in bed together.
  • There are frequent scenes of passionate kissing between Will and various women.

Product placement

The cigarette brands Marlboro and American Eagle Blue are used in this movie.

Coarse language

This movie contains some coarse language.

Ideas to discuss with your children

Definitely, Maybe is a romantic comedy that is likely to appeal to women. The film is well cast with an involving plot, but the themes and sexual references make it unsuitable as a family film.

The main messages from this movie are that not everything in life works out just the way you want it and that happy endings come in many different ways. You can talk about these values as they apply to your family as well as the values of honesty, forgiveness, and dedication and determination to follow your dreams. You could also discuss your family values and attitudes to smoking and drinking and the impact of divorce on children.