Last year, The Daily Beast published an article titled “The Rom-Com Revival Is Real!” in reference to the announcement that Richard Gere, Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon, and more would be teaming up for a love story together. That movie, Maybe I Do, has now arrived. After seeing the film, I insist that we rescind this headline—even if the revival of the romantic comedy does exist, it’s got nothing to do with this godawful film.
One might think that, by combining big stars like Gere, Keaton, Sarandon, Emma Roberts, William H. Macy, and Luke Bracey, the movie doesn’t even need to be good. Can’t it survive off of star power alone? No. Absolutely not. We saw this happen with Ticket to Paradise, last year’s utter trainwreck featuring Julia Roberts and George Clooney as two divorced parents bickering at their daughter’s wedding. No matter how splashy your stars may be, nothing can make up for a terrible, unfunny script devoid of all romance.
The one thing that Ticket to Paradise did have going for it, though, was how magnetic Roberts and Clooney were. Maybe I Do does not have a single ounce of chemistry to offer.
Two sets of older couples—Howard (Gere) and Grace (Keaton), and Monica (Sarandon) and Sam (Macy)—have grown tired of each other. So, they seek companionship in new lovers. The twist, though, is that they’re doing a spouse swap; Howard sleeps with Monica, while Sam and Grace share a more emotional connection. Coincidentally, these two couples also happen to be parents to one half each of another couple: Michelle (Roberts) and Allen (Bracey), who struggle to define their future.
But the film takes forever to define these relationships (Howard and Grace are Michelle’s parents, Monica and Sam are Allen’s, the parents have switched partners—in case you couldn’t follow along), despite its zany premise that should be explained as soon as possible. This great familial entanglement is not a plot twist; there’s no “WHAT?” moment, because the trailer already spoiled it. Instead of introducing the wacky switcheroo plot in the first act, Maybe I Do spends the first 30 minutes trudging through the old folks’ existentialism and romantic dread. Ah, aren’t rom-coms delightful?
Part of the appeal of a romantic comedy is the escapism—throwing away all cynicism, rom-coms prevail as beams of blind hope. Maybe I Do has the chance to offer hope in its young couple, played by two actors who had such wonderful chemistry in the Netflix original rom-com Holidate. They are stripped of all personality in this new movie, though. When we meet Michelle and Allen at a wedding, Michelle is hoping to catch the bridal bouquet to be the next bride. In order to prevent this, Allen jumps in front of the flowers, punting them out of Michelle’s grasp.
These are the only two traits we get for these two: Michelle hopes to marry Allen; Allen thinks marriage is a relationship’s death sentence. They spend the rest of the film arguing over their conflicting views until they can’t argue any longer, calling their parents for advice. And, let’s remember, these parents don’t know a thing about staying committed to a relationship. They’re all sleeping with each other!
So Allen’s parents arrive at Michelle’s home, Sarandon sporting a white coat with marshmallow puffs for sleeves, while Keaton pulls high-waisted khakis up to her rib cage. While it’s always fun to see Keaton in a Nancy Meyers-esque kitchen, watching her jump jolly for Jesus in a frumpy flannel isn’t exactly the comfort film we all seek from the actress. Maybe I Do creates caricatures of its four leading players—Keaton a homey grandma, Gere a suave playboy, Sarandon a dazzling diva, and Macy a sad sack—which is what you may expect from a middle school theater production of a A Midsummer Night’s Dream, never Oscar nominees.
Nothing actually happens in Maybe I Do. While that’s not always a detracting factor in movies, it’s not really what you want from a rom-com, where yearning plays out over dinner, hands brush at museums, or three dads visit a Greek island to meet their long-lost daughter. Instead, Allen and Michelle squabble on a bed about marriage, an argument in which the most shocking revelation is that Michelle wears her thick leather boots on her bed! It’s as if ChatGPT generated this “human” rom-com via AI, drafting an all-star cast with word-vomit dialogue roleplaying as thoughtful conversations on life.
It’s possible to excuse a bad movie. But when a bad movie squanders some of the best talent in the game, it’s a completely indefensible act. Maybe I Do made me wince at Diane Keaton’s frumpiness, a crime guilty of the highest punishment. There’s no payoff to any of the heavy cynicism of the film, either, resulting in pessimistic garbage tied together with a nonsensical ending. Save yourself the heartache and watch a Nancy Meyers film instead.