Evan (Matthew Morrison) and Jules (Cameron Diaz) in WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE EXPECTING. Photo credit: Melissa Moseley
No baby stone is left unturned in What to Expect When You’re Expecting, which addresses everything from morning sickness to miscarriage and everything in between, such as the “glow,” epidurals, natural childbirth, C-sections and adoption. Basically, it’s about the highs and lows of having a baby.
In the same vein as He’s Just Not that Into You, Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve, Expecting is another one of those sitcom-y movies with a large cast and simultaneous, loosely connected storylines.
Based on the best-selling, self-help, how-to guide read by millions of expectant mothers, the movie creates fictional stories and characters while dropping some nuggets of information from the book. With a script from writers Shauna Cross and Heather Hach, director Kirk Jones focuses on five couples in the Atlanta area. The stories didn’t overlap very much, so the movie often felt disjointed.
Here’s the lineup: Rosie and Marco (Anna Kendrick and Chace Crawford) are the young, rival food truck operators who conceive during a one-night stand. Jennifer Lopez is Holly, a photographer married to Alex (Rodrigo Santoro). After spending their life savings on unsuccessful IVF treatments, they decide to adopt a baby from Ethiopia.
Cameron Diaz is Jules, the reality TV star and fitness guru (think The Biggest Loser) who hooks up Evan (Matthew Morrison), her partner on a dancing TV show (think Dancing With the Stars).
Elizabeth Banks is Wendy, the baby expert who is finally with child after years of trying with her husband Gary (Ben Falcone). Unfortunately, there is a huge rivalry with Gary’s dad Ramsey (Dennis Quaid) and his much younger wife Skyler (Brooklyn Decker), who is pregnant with twins.
Then, there’s the “no judging” dude’s group of dads led by Chris Rock. Santoro’s character, nervous about his impending international adoption, joins the group and learns that fatherhood is where happiness goes to die. The dads spend much time envying the young, buff guy (Joe Manganiello) who runs shirtless through the park where they gather.
The scenes with the group of dads offer the most laughs and stops the movie from being a complete chick flick. I would advise one not be misled by the previews, which make it seem like the guys are a big part of the movie. They aren’t. The dads were funny enough that their issues could have been developed into an entire movie, but that is not the case.
Banks is the best of the ladies bunch. Her portrayal of the woman who is forced to admit that pregnancy isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, but is instead often hemorrhoids and gas is funny and heartwarming. She, too, probably could have been the focus of an entire movie. The Diaz character was especially unrealistic and probably unrelatable for anyone not on a TV show — i.e., most people.
The African adoption ceremony with Lopez and Santoro offered a surprisingly touching moment. Kendrick and Crawford were onscreen so sporadically it was hard to get attached to them.
What to Expect When You’re Expecting is certainly not a must-see movie, but it might make a decent rental. While there are some dramatic moments, overall, it had more laughs than I expected. ••
Movie Grade: B-