When you have a film led by such reliable talent as Richard Gere, Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon and William H. Macy, it’s understandable to believe that the hands you’re in will guide you to a safe destination. And perhaps that’s the problem. Maybe I Do is entirely too safe to make any lasting impression beyond its final credit roll.
Though it’s packaging itself as a romantic comedy, Maybe I Do, which comes courtesy of predominant TV comedy producer Michael Jacobs (Boy Meets World, Girl Meets World, Charles In Charge), is really anything but. It talks of romance and has the lightest smattering of laughs, but it’s more correctly an observational (and conversational) outing about relationship dynamics and what someone’s own individual idea of that is.
Initially setting up one fateful night and the interactions of three separate couples, Maybe I Do looks at loneliness, lust, and life-commitments. The loneliness is wholly embodied by Macy, dunking his M&M’s into his popcorn bucket as he sobs through a foreign film as Sam, making enough of a scene for the observing Grace (Keaton, surprisingly not that neurotic here) to interject and ask what’s wrong.
On the other side of town, lust – at least initially – is in full swing through the hotel room rendezvous between Gere’s Howard and Sarandon’s seductress Monica. The banter suggests it’s the end of their affair, for Howard that is, and though Monica threatens to kill him at some later date, it all seems just like a venomous knee-jerk reaction to her obviously bruised ego.
Then there’s life or, more correctly, impending marriage for Alan (Luke Bracey) and Michelle (Emma Roberts) who, at the glitzy wedding of another couple, face their own destiny and what they each want out of the relationship when Alan, a little commitment-phobic despite his obvious love for the ring-less Michelle, does all he can to hijack the seminal moment of Michelle catching the bouquet. It doesn’t go down well, and after Michelle sprouts a lot of words and pull quotes about love, marriage and “jumping the cliff” together, she presents him an ultimatum: commit or vacate.
The real hook of Maybe I Do then falls into place – rather predictably, really – when Alan and Michelle sulk to their respective parents about their relationship, and, wouldn’t you know it, it happens to be our previously-introduced quartet, except it’s Sam married to Monica, and Howard to Grace. I guess comical wackiness will ensue? One would think, but rather underwhelmingly Maybe I Do submits to a more subdued mentality. At least it never tries too hard for a laugh, and each capable performer manages a decent delivery of otherwise uneventful dialogue, but the idea of these four being in a room together, unaware of their spouse’s infidelities, never comes to fruition the way the genre would have us expect. In some ways it’s almost refreshing that Maybe I Do opts for an emotional reaction rather than situational humour, but it also results in the film hardly raising enough laughs and interest to keep us entirely on board.
The impressive cast on hand give the film more than it does in return, which is a traditional genre piece that feels a little too tired and worn for a 2023 ensemble comedy. It’s always a treat to see such talent collectively riff off each other, but they deserve better than a script that’s formulaic to a disappointing fault.
TWO AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Maybe I Do is screening in North American theatres from January 27th, 2023. It is scheduled for release in Australian theatres from April 27th, 2023.