‘Maybe I Do’ Review: Seasoned Pros Can’t Save This Alleged Romantic Comedy

Diane Keaton, Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon and William H. Macy each get a star-turn at pretentious blather in this talky mediocrity.

Richard Gere, Diane Keaton, William H. Macy and Susan Sarandon (from left) in “Maybe I Do.” John Baer/Vertical Entertainment

Talky, labored and lost in mediocrity, Maybe I Do is another sad example of what happens to seasoned pros when they hang around long enough to end up in material that is regrettably beneath them. They want to work to keep flagging careers alive, but with worthy vehicles so few and far between, they’re forced to accept whatever lean projects come their way. As much as I admire, respect and look forward to seeing Diane Keaton, Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon and William H. Macy on the screen, this glamorous ensemble can do nothing to lift the deadly dullness of an alleged romantic comedy called Maybe I Do. With stars like these, this should be a cause for rejoicing. Instead, it seems doubly disappointing. 

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MAYBE I DO ★★ (2/4 stars)
Directed by: Michael Jacobs
Written by: Michael Jacobs
Starring: Diane Keaton, Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Emma Roberts, Luke Bracey, William H. Macy
Running time: 94 mins.

Badly written and clumsily directed by Michael Jacobs, it focuses (briefly) on an attractive young couple, Allen and Michelle (Luke Bracey and Emma Roberts), who, after debating, bickering and over-analyzing their relationship, decide to make a giant leap forward and tie the knot. There’s one final knot to untie first—they must arrange a dinner to introduce their parents. The big shock is that they know each other already. Michelle’s father (Richard Gere) has been sleeping with Allen’s mother (Susan Sarandon) for four months, and her mother (Diane Keaton) had a one-night stand with Allen’s wimpy father (William H. Macy) after she picked him up in a movie theater. With no idea what they’re in for, Sarandon and Macy go to Keaton and Gere’s ghastly suburban house in Mamaroneck and what follows is controlled farce with everyone overacting in a script that is never remotely believable. 

While all hell breaks loose, the rest of the movie forces them all to drive each other mad with interminable debates about guilt, infidelity, commitment, and the archaic value of marital vows. Each actor miraculously manages a few moments of splendid candor and revelation, but the film, restricted by its adaptation by the director from his flop stage play, never succeeds in finding the necessary freedom to escape from an obvious claustrophobic, stage-bound narrative into something three-dimensional that might engage a viewer’s interest beyond the proscenium. Movies are not plays; they need room to grow and fresh air to breathe. Maybe I Do, a spin on the words exchanged since Day One at wedding ceremonies everywhere, never extends beyond cardboard. 

The characters are all neurotic and miserable, but not in any interesting way, resulting in stilted dialogue that never comes alive, spoken in the style of phony monologues that keep you glancing at your watch. Daughter Michelle: “We have to decide whether we get married or break up.”  Michelle’s father: “Honey, you can’t think about spending your life with someone or never seeing them again, at the same time.” Allen’s mother: “Well, sure you can. Those are the choices.” Each star gets a star-turn at pretentious blather. Macy: “Love is just a word we’ve attached to describe the feeling we won’t really understand until we’re old enough to look back on it—and wonder if we ever did.” And what about Sarandon, who looks gorgeous and gets the worst lines: “You know what killed relationships? Antibiotics. ‘Till death do us part’ needed a rewrite after penicillin.”  The whole movie needs a rewrite, if you ask me.

What attracted an enlightened cast like this, liberated politically and sexually, to a film mired in naivete and dated ignorance is a mystery. All four stars have made careers playing hip, balanced, outspoken people in everything from American Gigolo and Looking for Mr. Goodbar to Boogie Nights. Now they’re playing stale, clueless clods with no defining characteristics beyond the usual conservative cliches. And I fear they’re doing it to make money and keep their careers afloat because they aren’t being offered anything better. This is a crime that must be rectified at once. Bottom line: despite a surfeit of   mistakes, is I Do Maybe any good? Are you kidding? In the end the moral, when each husband convinces his wife “the best part of the rest of my life is you,” is cringe-inducing.  Is it worth seeing anyway? Your move.

Observer Reviews are regular assessments of new and noteworthy cinema.

‘Maybe I Do’ Review: Seasoned Pros Can’t Save This Alleged Romantic Comedy