Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Run Time: 1 hour 50 minutes, Rated PG-13
Starring: Cameron Diaz, Elizabeth Banks, Jennifer Lopez, Chace
Crawford, Anna Kendrick, Brooklyn Decker, Ben Falcone, Mathew Morrison, Dennis Quaid, Chris Rock
Directed by Kirk Jones (Waking Ned Devine, Nanny McPhee)
If you were to believe what is presented in What to Expect When You’re Expecting, then pregnancy really isn’t all that bad. Sure, it’s kind of painful, but not in any real way - it's actually kind of humorous. All the men in your life will be supportive, and everything will work out just fine in the end.
In fact, there has perhaps never been such a clean-cut, unrealistic take on motherhood and newlywed marriage, and yes I'm aware that there have been countless on-screen portrayals of both since the dawning of time. Yes, I'm also aware that I am a 30-something male and have never experienced pregnancy first-hand, but I'm pretty certain that people don't sneeze and have a baby like they do in this film. I'm also pretty sure that people swear from time to time (instead of saying "effing" they say...well you know). Finally, I am 100% confident that when married guys get together, they aren't forming pregnancy clubs and talking endlessly about their kids to one another.
But what was to be expected from a movie based on a self-help book? This incredibly popular guide to pregnancy has been around for nearly 30 years, and has informed the masses on what to expect during that magical nine month period. The film version doesn't position itself as helpful, instead it attempts to make comedy out of the hundreds of ideas presented in the book, making sure that all cliches and stereotypes are equally represented.
In fact, it is nearly laughable what is included in the film to make sure that it is loved by a female audience, as if the theme of motherhood, love and pregnancy weren't already enough. Cameron Diaz gets pregnant with her dancing partner (Matthew Morrison) on a Dancing With the Stars type show. If there is anything that scored well with women over the past decade, there is at least a passing reference to it here.
The story itself intertwines the lives of several women who become pregnant. In addition to Diaz, you have Jennifer Lopez as a struggling photographer looking to adopt, and then there is the "accidental" pregnancy of Anna Kendrick, who just couldn't refuse the bad-boy player (Chace Crawford).
The most interesting couple is Elizabeth Banks and her hubby played by Ben Falcone. He is a loving schlub of a husband and she is the perfectionist looking to handle her pregnancy by the book. His dad is a rich former race-car driver played by Dennis Quaid, who has also just knocked up his stunning young trophy wife played by Brooklyn Decker.
The film juggles these stories awkwardly, but there are actually a few good comedic performances especially from Elizabeth Banks, Anna Kendrick and Ben Falcone, who make the most of their thinly outlined caricatures. Brooklyn Decker and Dennis Quaid are the scene-stealers though, and get most of the laughs.
Interjected between scenes is a clan of dads known as "dude's group," who roll their strollers through central park like they were gangsters. With Thomas Lennon, Chris Rock and Rob Huebel making up most of the group, you would think that hilarity would ensue. The dialogue amongst the males is so unrealistic though, it is laughable for all the wrong reasons. Scripted by three women, they didn't find the need to portray any of these men realistically, figuring that there wouldn't be too many men in the theater anyways.
The result of all of this is a messy and mediocre comedy that doesn't even answer the topic posed in it's title. And is it really necessary that all of these characters have to meet and intertwine at different points in the film? Why do movies featuring many storylines always feel the need to do this?
What to Expect When You're Expecting just goes through the motions on its way to delivery. It's pro-life, pro-marriage message is so clean and bubbly, even the babies are born without a mess. I'm pro-choice when it comes to this film, and if you're a guy, choose anything other than seeing this one.
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