PG-13. I read an article as if this is a raunchy rom-com. Okay, we need to take a step back. Things that are raunchy: pre-marital sex. It happens in the movie. But I think of Knocked Up as a raunchy romantic comedy. This is a slightly risque romantic comedy. There's drug use. There's language. But really, all of these fall under the purview of PG-13.
DIRECTOR: Nahnatchka Khan
I'm sorry, Pat. I watched it. There were so many adds for it. So many people were talking about the Keanu Reeves scene. Also, it was a romantic comedy that looked tolerable. When you watch five movies a week, you take what you can get sometimes. When my wife told me that she wanted to watch a movie, I got really excited. I pretty much traded Always Be My Maybe for some episodes of Jessica Jones season three. But you know what? It did its job.
If a rom-com makes me openly laugh, even slightly graciously, it did its job. It isn't the funniest movie, but it is darned entertaining. I know that Ali Wong is famous. Like Pat's aversion to Netflix previews, I kept getting previews for Ali Wong's standup on Netflix. I don't know who cut that together, but it came off as way too aggressive for someone who wants a chill night of enjoying some standup. But I'm seeing Ali Wong's name attached to some pretty impressive projects, so I might be giving her standup a chance despite a frantic trailer editor. Randall Park is also kind of crushing it right now. My wife asked me what he was from, and I just said "Everything." I really was thinking Ant-Man and the Wasp, but I knew that's not the direction she was taking that question. I knew that she meant Fresh Off the Boat, but I only read the book and didn't watch the TV show. (That last sentence was to make me sound somewhat literate.) But these two have a really rad chemistry. The odd thing is that I think that they took their archetypes a bit too far. I mentioned that Knocked Up was the raunchy comedy that the movie was being compared to, but that's because the movie uses the same archetypes. But Always Be My Maybe almost takes the successful woman / stoner man a bit too far. When I think of Knocked Up, Katherine Heigl's character is goal oriented, but not wildly successful. She's doing what she wants and is still climbing the ladder. When she runs into Seth Rogan's lovable loser, it's the kind of person that she has avoided and might slow her down. When she realizes that she's ultimately happy with a combination of work ethic and emotional self-care, that's when things work out for her. It makes Hollywood sense. The thing about Sasha and Marcus is that Sasha is TOO successful. Sasha has already made that choice in life to pursue her dreams. She's a hard worker. As goofy as her relationship with Daniel Dae-Kim is, it also makes sense. They would naturally be supportive of each other because they can have emotional love and professional love. It's just that Brandon doesn't actually love her. But she's emotionally pretty stable from the beginning. Yeah, she's a workaholic. But she was in the relationship for love. It was only once he removed himself from the relationship (the best way I can put it) did she discover that her relationship was toxic.
I get the concept that Marcus was her crush for seventeen years. I get that they lost their virginity to each other. I understand what the initial spark might be between those two people. But Marcus is such a deadbeat. Seth Rogan tries putting on a show for Katherine Heigl at least. He gets frustrated easily and then lowers the defenses. Marcus clearly loves his low stakes life. His repeated mantra is that he will never leave that neighborhood. This would make sense if Marcus and Sasha were copacetic when they reunited. But there was this period where they barely wanted to talk to each other. Marcus saw Sasha as stuck up and rich and Sasha saw Marcus as this loser who broke her heart. To get them into a relationship as quickly as they did really didn't make a ton of sense. I mean, the Keanu Reeves scene gave us a bit of room to see what they could see in each other. But the movie almost ended two-thirds of the way through the film. In the courtroom of Literally Anything: Movies, I'm going to allow this structural choice because it is at least interesting. Always Be My Maybe, which is a title that doesn't make a lick of sense for this movie because it isn't the central theme unless you really try and force it upon the film, Why I like it is that it is a bit different for once. I know that I'm skipping by tons of examples that don't fit in the following categories, but I also really don't think that I'm a rom-com expert. A lot of rom-coms are people putting aside their crap and ending the film in love. The entire time is the pursuit. OR, the movie could be about a couple that was in love and has hit a rock in their relationship, only to save it by the end of the film. The structure of this film is trying to do both with a 2/3 for the first plot and 1/3 for the second plot structure. It's weird. Basically, it becomes a will they / won't they followed by a "How is that going to work?" idea.
It's not the worst. I can see neither plot really having the legs by itself. But when the first two thirds do the When Harry Met Sally structure and doesn't have the content to pull it off, having the question that we all have answered is a good idea. I don't necessarily think that how the movie ends up is necessarily believable. But it is Hollywood believable. What kind of happens to make the story keep going is that they give Marcus a major flaw. Like, it's big. I know that the writers probably thought that they gave both characters a flaw. But Sasha's flaw is evident from moment one. She's an emotional and vulnerable person who hides behind work. It's consistent throughout the film. It looks like Marcus's problem is that he has no ambition. Yeah, that's a big problem for a character to have, but it also makes him way too lovable. Marcus's character takes some really out-of-character moments in the story. He's got this thing that is only quasi-consistent. Marcus seems like a really nice guy throughout the movie. He listens to Sasha even though he hates her boyfriends. Yeah, he gets passive aggressive or aggressive aggressive. But he's mostly a best friend type for the majority of the film until he sleeps with Sasha. It's then that he turn into a demon. It is done under the guise of awkwardness. I know that Marcus isn't the first character to have this trait put upon him. But he doesn't really do this with Jenny. Jenny kind of sucks. She's written to be slightly the worst. She's way more of a caricature than any other character in the movie and she's meant to be considered obnoxious. The movie at least made a clear delineation that Jenny is terrible as opposed to my least favorite character: nice boring person. Marcus is really nice to Jenny even though he kind of hates her. I don't know if he knows that he hates her. But Sasha is way more important to him and he treats her like dirt after they sleep together. Why is that separation there? Does Marcus actually treat Jenny like dirt because I don't really get that vibe?
Listen, the big sell is the Keanu Reeves moment. It's been spoiled by everyone on the Internet and Keanu is getting himself a Keanuissance. (Or, the Reevesisance. The Keanu de Reevesistance?) Keanu gets tone. My wife was asking me if Keanu Reeves was a bad actor and I emphatically said, "Yes." I'm so sorry, Mr. Reeves. You seem down to Earth enough to be someone who actually reads this. I have so many compliments for you coming up, but I don't love your acting style. I'm one guy. I make very little money. Forgive me. But Reeves gets what he's doing here. I adore when actors can kind of make fun of themselves. I was talking about how Ed Sheeran couldn't do this in Yesterday. But Reeves knows what the public perception is of him. The movie, when Reeves came on screen, went from adequate rom-com to something absolutely hilarious. I don't know if my wife agreed. But I felt like everyone came alive for those scenes. Randall Park and Ali Wong were funny, but were kind of doing bits. But watching them play off of the absurdity of Keanu Reeves was perfect. It honestly is worth watching for that part. It's also kind of long. This isn't a cameo thing where Reeves makes fun of himself for a second. He's kind of vital to the film and really just goes for it. Yeah, he may not be an amazing actor, but I'll watch him in anything. Except Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula. Geez, he's so bad in that. (I'm sorry again, Mr. Reeves. You are a wonderful human being and I wish for you to continue being the best. When my wife asked if you were a bad actor and I responded positively, I pulled out the Buzzfeed article of you helping people get a bus home. God bless you.)
I don't know why the movie is called Always Be My Maybe. I get that they knew each other as kids. But there was never the scene where the two of them made a pact to get married before a certain age or else they had to marry each other. It's one of those generic titles and sounds like a song that is used during the closing of the film. But the movie holds its own. It's not amazing. Few rom-coms really are. But on the grand scale of rom-coms, I'll rank this one high. I had a good time and I laughed pretty hard for a while.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.