Review: Maybe I Do — Movies for the Rest of Us with Bill Newcott

Michael Jacobs has made a movie that’s more Aaron Sorkin than Nora Ephron.

Maybe I Do (Vertical Entertainment)

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Maybe I Do

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Rating: PG-13

Run Time: 1 hour 35 minutes

Stars: Diane Keaton, Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, William H. Macy

Writer/Director: Michael Jacobs

A truly gifted cast not only saves the new rom-com Maybe I Do from sluggish direction and an uneven script, they all but perform heart massage on the thing, pounding on its chest, slapping it across the face and screaming, “I’m not going to let you die on me, dammit!”

The EMTs in question here are none other than Diane Keaton, Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, and William H. Macy, who play two long-married but unhappy couples (Keaton/Gere; Sarandon/Macy). The pairs are complete strangers until, through sheer coincidence, they individually embark on secret romantic flings with each other’s spouses (Keaton/Macy; Sarandon/Gere).

Well, you say, that’s quite a coincidence, ain’t it? But wait, there’s more: Keaton/Gere’s daughter, (Emma Roberts), is living with Sarandon/Macy’s son (Luke Bracey). And now, sight unseen, they’re all about to meet up for a get-acquainted dinner.

The chances of this scenario ever actually happening are roughly the same as one being hit by lightning while collecting a Powerball jackpot — but, hey, this is the movies, right? And it’s a screwball premise that promises all the door-slamming, close calls, misunderstandings, and mistaken identities of a George S. Kaufman or Murray Schisgal farce.

But here’s the thing, and the reason why Maybe I Do is on life support almost from the get-go: Writer/director Michael Jacobs isn’t content with making us laugh and, maybe, learn a little bit about human nature along the way. He treats Maybe I Do as something of a treatise about marriage, and love, and falling in and out of love, and the ridiculous yet essentially human notion that people might actually find their true selves through an attachment to someone else. If there are some laughs along the way (and there are), then fine. But that’s not what he’s here for.

The result: A movie that’s more Aaron Sorkin than Nora Ephron.

Jacobs, a gifted playwright and creator of TV sitcoms (Boy Meets World, My Two Dads) seems oddly disinterested in getting to the part we’re all here to see: Four spouses, each desperately trying to conceal their quadrangle of deceit from one another, each pretending not to know the lover sitting across from them, each sinking into deeper exasperation with every innocent yet somehow explosively damning piece of small talk.

And this is just the cast to pull that off: Gere, smug and superior, his trademark cool slowly turning to red-faced humiliation; Keaton, her trademark chirpiness descending into wide-eyed dread; Sarandon, flouncing and ferociously feminine, giddily watching the world she’s not happy in crash and burn; and Macy, sad-faced as an abandoned kitten in a late-night ASPCA commercial, terrified of the truth, yet quietly reveling in it.

All four etch their characters perfectly — and even the younger actors have their appeal, if a bit too much screen time.

But they seem to be making a different movie than Jacobs, who sought to create a comedy exploring the implications of long-term relationships — and ended up with a talky, stagey hybrid of Three’s Company and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

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