Maybe I Do

Reviewer: Helen Tope

Writer and Director: Michael Jacobs

Written and directed by Michael Jacobs, Maybe I Do is an Amazon Studios release that boasts a seriously starry cast.

Diane Keaton and Richard Gere; Susan Sarandon and William H. Macy, play two unhappily married couples. Monica (Sarandon) and Howard (Gere) have been sleeping with each other, but the affair has fizzled out for Howard. Their spouses, Grace (Keaton) and Sam (Macy), bump into each other by chance, and embark on a one-night stand (no sex, just a bucket of chicken).

Monica, outraged at being dumped, threatens to expose Howard’s infidelity. Grace and Sam consider the prospect of starting new lives, together. The narrative introduces a third element: the couples’ children, Michelle (Emma Roberts) and Allen (Luke Bracey). They have reached a pivotal point in their relationship, and it’s time for the parents to meet.

On initial approach, this film has all the hallmarks of a Nancy Meyers rom-com. Glossy locations, aspirational kitchen islands. However, it has none of the lift. This is a film of missed opportunities. Jacobs uncovers a sweet, natural chemistry between Macy and Keaton; so much so that as the film progresses, you’ll wish the camera had stayed on them. The pair are effortlessly charming, and the petition to green-light a Keaton / Macy film starts here.

The character development hardly moves beyond type. Emma Roberts and Luke Bracey do their best with barely-sketched outlines. Susan Sarandon is very poorly served with a character so overblown it’s three steps away from her Enchanted persona. Experience in this situation pays off, and William H. Macy delivers the film’s laughs (two of them) as he finds the comedy in Jacobs’ leaden script.

The main problem with Maybe I Do is, ironically, its lack of commitment. It can’t decide whether it’s a romantic comedy or drama, and it hits neither perimeter. Unlike the Meyers hit It’s Complicated, with its unapologetic portrayal of older people having (and enjoying) sex, the sexual mores here are so muddled, no-one is having a good time and they don’t even know why. The references to religion also don’t make sense for people who would have grown up in the Swinging Sixties. While Meryl Streep’s Complicated character smokes a doobie, Diane Keaton’s is watching the GOD channel.

The whole balance of the film is off: Maybe I Do doesn’t have enough bite to be enjoyably acerbic, and the elements of sweetness are saccharine. Jacobs clearly wanted to move into more complex emotional issues, but the script just isn’t up to the job. There’s so little pay-off it’s hard to stay involved. With this much talent on screen, Maybe I Do should be a draw for audiences who might feel neglected in this current cinematic climate. However, what they will see reflected back at them is not flattering; the sourness in this film is hard to escape. But as your mind considers the possibilities of a Macy / Keaton menage, there’s always the chance that Maybe I Do will be responsible for a much happier coupling.

MaybeIDo is streaming on Prime Video from 19th May.

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