Movie Review: Maybe I Do

While looking at the movie poster and the title for the new film, “Maybe I Do”, I thought that this was going to be a new James L Brooks movie. Unfortunately, this movie is not a James L Brooks film, not even close.

If anyone wonders why James L. Brooks writes and directs a new movie so rarely, it is because he wants every line, every word, and every single scene to be perfect. His best films are “Terms of Endearment”, 1983, “Broadcast News”, 1987, “As Good as it Gets”, 1997, and his last two, not as well received: “Spanglish”, 2004 and “How do you Know”, 2010. My guess is that Brooks was probably discouraged about the bad reviews for How do you Know, after laboring for probably over a year. Since 2010, he has not released a new movie probably because a new screenplay requires so much work, with no guarantee of anything. Screenwriting is in fact, the world’s most challenging art form, even for one of the best screenwriters of all time, James L. Brooks.

As far as Maybe I Do, I think there is a possibility that the producers, knowing that the screenplay was weak, tried to make the movie-going public believe that this movie might be as good as, or kind of like, a James L. Brooks film. Once a movie is released and trashed by Rotten Tomatoes at a 27% rating, then they have to be creative to try and save the box office. This new unique idea will fail like so many others I have seen with other bad movies that have been rated low by Rotten Tomatoes as soon as they are released. Bad dialogue and story are not something you can save using tricks.

The most surprising about this essentially bad movie is the cast is a list of top actors who have been around a long time agreeing to make it. Including Diane Keaton, Richard Gere, William H. Macy, Susan Sarandon and Emma Roberts. Critic Rex Reed captures the reason why actors like these took roles in this film perfectly: “Maybe I Do is another sad example of what happens to seasoned pros when they hang around long enough to end up in material that is regrettably beneath them. They want to work to keep flagging careers alive, but with worthy vehicles, so few and far between, they’re forced to accept whatever lean projects come their way.” Everything about this comment is accurate and the reason why all 4 of these well-known actors, read the script and still agreed to make this film. This kind of thing happens way too often for so many named actors who just want to stay relevant in Hollywood at the risk of making too many bad films.

Fundamentally the problem is that it seems that the screenwriter, Michael Jacobs is trying too hard to make it seem that “this is the way real people talk”. Within minutes of watching this film, I realized that nobody talks like these people. Nobody would ever want to talk like these characters and if anyone talked like them, nobody could stand to be around them. There were times when it was impossible to understand the point they were trying to make, even though there were some ideas about the pain of love, loss, and trying to find love that was well stated. There are some who will find some of this dialogue too preachy, but I thought that some of these moments and on-point comments about one of the most painful parts of being alive, were the only good things about this movie. There was an attempt at a farcical ending – that includes the parents of a young couple trying to decide if they should get married during a group dinner, and their parents who by coincidence already know each other. Most of this fails as do most of the jokes, with the exception of some of the comments from William H Macy.

Perhaps with about 5 more rewrites and collaboration from the best writer of movies like this, James L. Brooks, this screenplay could have been saved, but unfortunately, this one will be in and out of theaters in about 2 weeks. This time around the critical ratings of 27% from Rotten Tomatoes is correct.

Past Movie Review: Unfaithful

The movie “Unfaithful” with Richard Gere and Diane Lane was released in 2002 and is arguably the best work of both of these actors. Diane Lane was nominated for best supporting actor Oscar and in my opinion, she should have won because her performance in this movie was so profound. 

Within the difficult art of screenwriting the mantra has always been, “show don’t tell”. The less said the better, show what is happening through subtext, subtle dramatic pauses and looks. Unfaithful has some of the best dramatic pauses, emotions and knowing glances that I have ever seen in any movie. No words are spoken, the best acting in this movie was all within the silence within the emotions that Connie, played by Diane Lane and Edward, played by Richard Gere as the emotional ride unfolds.

The story within this movie is obvious from its name. A happily married couple with a son has everything going for themselves.  But one day while in the Soho district of New York City, Connie runs into a French Book salesman Paul Martel, played by Oliver Martinez and the attraction for both of them is too strong for Connie to avoid cheating on her husband. What follows are numerous appointments at Paul’s Soho apartment and a scene on a train after one meeting where Connie just sits by herself,  remembering what happened at Paul’s apartment – one of the best examples of acting without saying a word, ever filmed. 

For those who have never seen this movie, I will not provide any spoilers as to how this great and far too common story of infidelity unfolds.  This movie is frequently on cable TV and is a must see for all who have never seen this great example of acting in the last 18 years.  I was also very surprised to realize the huge stupidity of the 50% ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, once again dead wrong. My rating is a solid 90%.