Even if you had no prior knowledge of “Maybe I Do’s” pre-production history, it would likely not take you long to determine, based on the film’s clockwork pacing, punchline-laden dialogue, and frequent use of proscenium arch framing, that it is based on a stage play.
For those who recall the heyday of celebrity-driven dinner theatre, the film may evoke memories of gorging on prime rib and downing mixed drinks while laughing at the antics of aging and/or under-employed film and television stars in everything from Neil Simon comedies (or Neil Simon want tobes) to Broadway flops that enjoyed extended afterlives in the hinterland.
As it turns out, writer-director Michael Jacobs modeled “Maybe I Do” on his own 1978 Broadway comedy, “Cheaters,” which was unique for being written by a 22-year-old dramatist.
In the interest of full transparency, I was in New York during the play’s brief run, but after reading one of the unfavorable reviews, I concluded, “No, thank you.”
Jacobs, who has found far more success as the writer and creator of the comedy “Boy Meets World,” frequently rewrote his screenplay for regional revivals in succeeding years, including a 2019 run at Sacramento’s Ooley Theatre. And now it is a film, in a sense.
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I cannot say with sure that the original material has been vastly improved over the years, but I assume that the ages of the main characters have been increased and their problems have been given greater dramatic weight in this version.
This may explain how Jacobs was able to get four veteran actors for “Maybe I Do”: Diane Keaton (who also acts as an executive producer), Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, and William H. Macy. In turn, they make the film significantly funnier and more engaging than it would have been without it.
However, give the playwright/director credit: Underneath the easy laughs and ludicrous contrivances, Jacobs has hidden some affectingly gloomy remarks about the fears of well-off but unhappy sixtysomethings confronting the ineluctable fact that as one character says, “more life has passed than you have left.
Initially, Howard’s (Gere) participation in extracurricular activities appeared to be a promising approach for reviving his stagnant life.
He reconsiders his options after a four-month romance with the equally long-married Monica (Sarandon). When we initially encounter them in a luxury New York hotel room, she attempts to pique his interest by stating, “I’m naked underneath this.”
His moderately angry response was, “I’ll consider that.” Clearly, we are witnessing the conclusion of the affair. And despite the fact that the sharp-tongued and thoroughly humiliated Monica threatens to kill her ex-lover in the future, neither Howard nor the audience takes her seriously.
Sam (William H. Macy) weeps while watching a black-and-white Scandinavian movie in a Manhattan art-house theatre, identifying a bit too strongly with the lead character’s inconsolable melancholy.
Grace (Keaton), a fellow audience member, notices the tears and offers comfort and, subsequently, conversation. Each is trapped in a decades-long marriage with a partner who no longer expresses affection or provides reassuring company. Even when they check into a seedy hotel together, they do nothing but speak.
They then go for a walk and continue their conversation. In fact, they converse throughout the duration of the evening, for even for the semi-religious Grace, adultery is unacceptable. When they separate, though, they each appear at least moderately happy for having met.
Allen (Luke Bracey) takes the bride’s bouquet at a wedding in a posh hotel because he didn’t want his live-in girlfriend Michelle to use the flowers as ammunition in her campaign to get him to propose.
Allen loves her without a doubt, but he fears that love has a short shelf life and that they may regret meeting and marrying other people in the future. Michelle is willing to take a chance and “leap off the cliff” with Allen, which is unsurprising given her reaction. Therefore, she returns to her parents and he returns to his.
All of this occurs during intercut scenes in the film’s opening half hour, and only people who have never watched a movie before would be astonished when it’s revealed that Howard and Grace are Michelle’s married parents, while Sam and Monica are Allen’s.
Continued predictability leads to a gathering of the three spouses for a home-cooked meal, which provokes shocked reactions, anxious dialogues, and the airing of complaints.
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To be fair, “Maybe I Do” is undemanding, painless, and delightfully diverting, and it never tries too hard for cheap laughs, which is its saving grace. There are numerous laugh-out-loud lines, many of which are made funnier by the pitch-perfect delivery of the actors.
When asked if he is happy, Macy’s Sam replies, “I’m as happy as I’m going to get.” The line may not look like much in print, but Macy makes it profoundly humorous and illuminating.
Allen, concerned about their long-term prospects, refers to his parents when he asks Michelle, “What happens to us on our way to them?” He may not fully understand the relationships between “them.” But his thesis is valid, notwithstanding Michelle’s rejection.
In short, the actors in “Maybe I Do,”, particularly the four AARP-appropriate stars, give more than the film receives. However, they receive just enough to deliver performances that are significantly more profound and gratifying than ordinary comedy.
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Maybe I Do a Trailer
Where Can I Watch It? Maybe I Do?
Maybe I Do, the most recent entry in the Maybe I Do franchise, will debut on Disney+ on July 8th. This new film promises to be just as entertaining as its predecessors, with enough of action and adventure to keep audiences engaged.
Where Maybe I Do Film?
Production. In February and March of 2022, filming took place in New Jersey.