Maybe I Do, 2023.
Written and Directed by Michael Jacobs.
Starring Emma Roberts, Luke Bracey, Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon, Richard Gere, and William H. Macy.
Michelle (Roberts) and Allen (Bracey) are in a relationship. They decide to invite their parents to finally meet about marriage. Turns out, the parents already know one another well, which leads to some differing opinions about marriage.
Based on his play, writer/director Michael Jacobs (primarily known in the TV world for creating hits such as Boy Meets World and Dinosaurs), Maybe I Do follows three separate relationships and two affairs in different phases of love; there’s jaded cynicism, optimism that old-age doesn’t mean the most romantic years have come and gone, and young love conflicted and at an impasse regarding beliefs on marriage. Unsurprisingly, it can also feel like three different movies, with varying results in quality spending time with these characters.
Howard and Monica (Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon) are having an affair that the former is no longer interested in despite the latter’s flirtatious sexual advances. Upon finally breaking things off, Monica jokingly threatens that if she ever comes across him again, she will kill him. Meanwhile, Grace and Sam (Diane Keaton and William H. Macy) notice each other alone in the movie theater auditorium, ending up sitting next to each other and shedding some loneliness by finding companionship in one another. They also happen to be the respective spouses of Howard and Monica. Nevertheless, the night takes Grace and Sam to some dinner, childhood stories about love, and a motel room with no sex but more meaningful conversation between them.
Elsewhere, Allen (Luca Bracey) makes a fool of himself and embarrasses Michelle (Emma Roberts) at a mutual friend’s wedding, exacerbating some in-apartment fighting about their future and one day getting married. These two only know how to converse in extremes, so their entire relationship comes down to whether or not Allen will marry Michelle. According to Michelle, it must mean Allen has found something wrong with her if he doesn’t decide to do so one day. That’s only the first instance of guilt-tripping here, which nearly every character partakes in at one point.
Michelle and Allen decide to retreat to their parent’s home, where, wouldn’t you know it, they turn out to be the previous couples mentioned above that have returned to their loveless marriages for the night. To be fair, Maybe I Do seems relatively aware that this is not a grand reveal, more fixated on using the situation for Michelle and Allen to get advice from guardians in broken relationships themselves unknowingly. And while some of these conversations are mildly engaging, Michael Jacobs’ television background shows, as do the stageplay roots of the source material but without any exciting craftsmanship. Essentially, it’s akin to watching a talky, boring sitcom for 95 minutes where characters never fully reach anything insightful regarding their stances.
The characters are either unlikable, annoyingly aloof, or overdramatic; beyond the differing advice and backgrounds of the two families, there’s not much to it. From there, Maybe I Do bafflingly launches into a meet-the-parents situation because these parent groups have never met each other somehow. And I say bafflingly because, while it was inevitable the film was heading down that route, the lack of attempt to make any of this convincingly believable is sad. Michael Jacobs is more concerned with getting into forced, awkward comedy where the parents realize what they have gotten into and must now avoid each other throughout dinner. However, it is appreciated that the mess is resolved somewhat peacefully, with characters trying to understand one another’s decisions and what led to them.
For the most part, veteran actors such as Richard Gere and William H. Macy are solid (the latter also has multiple funny lines), and the young couple played by Emma Roberts and Luke Bracey hold their own (they are by far the most interesting characters here, stuck inside a generation shifting its thoughts on marriage away from traditional values and merely bringing forth what was instilled into them by their parents), but Diane Keaton is dreadful here. Her attempts at comedy carry a different tone entirely.
As for where any of this goes, well, there are more questions than answers at the end of Maybe I Do. So, when it comes to taking a chance on this one, how about you don’t?
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com