The late critic Gene Siskel used to have a test. He would ask himself, “Is this film more interesting than a documentary of the same actors having lunch?” In the case of Maybe I Do, the answer is a resounding “no.” I would much rather have spent 95 minutes watching Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Diane Keaton, and William H. Macy dining together. That would have been interesting, intelligent, and funny – all the things this movie is not. Seeing these talented people stuck in a witless story is depressing because they deserve much better. That we've reached a point where material like this is apparently the best being offered to them is even more depressing.
The movie begins with a young couple at a wedding. Michelle (Emma Roberts) is in line to catch the bouquet. Her commitment-phobic boyfriend Allen (Luke Bracey) realizes what's happening and literally jumps on a table and dives through the air to intercept it. (This nonsense is the first sign that we're in trouble.) We also meet Howard (Gere), a guy who decides to break off the affair he's been having with Monica (Sarandon). Then there's Grace (Keaton), who consoles distraught stranger Sam (Macy) at a screening of a foreign film, which leads to them renting a motel room.
Perhaps you already see where this is going. An angry Michelle goes to stay with her parents while Allen goes to visit his in order to figure out whether he can possibly commit to a lifetime with his love. Deciding it would help to get both families together. Michelle invites Allen and his folks over for dinner. The situation gets awkward because her parents are Howard and Grace, and his parents are Monica and Sam.
This Three's Company-level concept leads all three couples to explore the nature of their respective relationships. A smart film about the ups and downs of long-term unions could be made from the set-up, but writer/director Michael Jacobs' screenplay has absolutely no depth. Conversations are shallow and obvious, demonstrating zero actual insight. These cardboard characters have no substantive thoughts on their unhappiness, no wit in talking about their gripes, no valid insights after hearing what their partners say. They're across-the-board drips, acting out a contrived scenario that gives the audience nothing to latch on to.
What is the point of Maybe I Do supposed to be? With that group of actors, the movie could have really dug into the way marriages change over time, sometimes for the good and sometimes for the bad. It could have probed how seeing your own parents unhappy can warp your view of getting married. With a sharper script, it might even have been one of those pictures that has at least one observation everyone watching would relate to. Instead, the movie stays at the level of a bad sitcom throughout, then acts as if viewers are supposed to be moved when the plot comes to a predictable end.
The saddest part of the movie is that the cast tries hard to sell this insipid material. They're game to go way beyond what they're given. Every once in a while, one of them will deliver a line or hit an emotional beat that makes you realize how amazing Maybe I Do might have been if it was better written. But it's not better written, and these fine actors are trapped in a film that's beneath their considerable talents.
out of four
Maybe I Do is rated PG-13 for sexually suggestive material and brief strong language. The running time is 1 hour and 35 minutes.