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Boredom Awaits During ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’

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HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 1.0/5.0
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CHICAGO – “Battleship” is getting a lot of flack this week for having little to do with its alleged source. I would argue that the awful “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” is even more dishonest when it comes to its inspiration. Working from an instructional book that’s designed to prepare adults for impending parenthood, the film that steals its title turns truth into cliché. There’s little that feels real or honest in this greatest hits parade of stereotypes about pregnancy and the attempt to disguise it in manipulative sentimentality makes it all the more nauseating.

Much like Garry Marshall’s “Valentine’s Day” and “New Year’s Eve,” Kirk Jones’ comedy tells multiple barely interconnected stories centered around how ridiculous, stupid, and annoying Hollywood thinks that grown men and women become when they’re expecting the birth of a child. Honestly, you could talk to any group of people about what they actually went through while they or their spouse was pregnant and get more humor, warmth, and believable humanity than in this misogynistic junk, a film that basically turns impending parenthood into a ridiculous tool for bad jokes and, even worse, emotional manipulation.

What to Expect When You're Expecting
What to Expect When You’re Expecting
Photo credit: Lionsgate

“What to Expect When You’re Expecting” features five couples dealing with pregnancy. There’s reality TV stars Jules (Cameron Diaz) and Evan (Matthew Morrison), a high-maintenance pair who argue about circumcision purely so the writers can throw in a few dick jokes but without the slightest degree of truth about how parents can disagree about major decisions even before they know the sex of the child. Baby photographer Holly (Jennifer Lopez) is adopting an Ethiopian child with her husband Alex (Rodrigo Santoro), a man who’s clearly not ready for fatherhood and so the writers throw him into a daddy’s group of stereotypes – men who walk through the park and complain about their wives but “really love their kids”. These walking cartoons are played by Rob Huebel, Chris Rock, Amir Talai, and Thomas Lennon.

We’re just getting started. There’s Gary (Ben Falcone) and Wendy (Elizabeth Banks), the couple that should be the most grounded and relatable for most audience goers but just end being annoying. Wendy thought pregnancy would be a joy but finds the weight gain, sore nipples, and moodiness to be more than she can bear while Gary is thoroughly annoyed that his super-rich father (Dennis Quaid) happens to having twins with his trophy wife (Brooklyn Decker) with nearly the same due date. Decker’s Skyler is the perfect example of how much is wrong with “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” She’s presented as the enemy because she’s NOT a physical and emotional mess during pregnancy or even childbirth. How dare she not be a stereotypical vision of what it means to be pregnant? How dare she seem to actually enjoy it?

What to Expect When You're Expecting
What to Expect When You’re Expecting
Photo credit: Lionsgate

We’re not done. Poor Anna Kendrick (way too talented for such a paper-thin character) plays food truck owner Rosie, who finds herself knocked up after a one-night stand with fellow chef Marco (Chace Crawford). Kendrick and Crawford actually have the most believable chemistry in the film but their story gets emotionally manipulative in such a calculated way that it fails to connect. They also lose out on screen time to nipple jokes and physical humor. “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” is the kind of film in which the minute a character speeds away in a golf cart, you can be damn sure that golf cart is crashing into something.

If writers Shauna Cross and Heather Hach had chosen a tonal direction, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” might have worked. What I mean is that there could still be a great ensemble piece about the humor and heartfelt emotion of pregnancy. This isn’t that movie. There could also be a wacky physical comedy about how silly people can be as their lives are about to change. This isn’t that movie either. It’s one of those horrendous flicks that tries to be it all and ends up being nothing in the process. There are so few moments or scenes in “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” that don’t feel like they were processed by a machine. “What do we need to put in this movie? Nipple pain? Check. Flatulence? Check. Circumcision jokes? Check. Gags about how awful dads are? You bet.” When screenwriters work off a checklist of clichés instead of from actual character, this is what you get. Expect something awful.

“What to Expect When You’re Expecting” stars Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Banks, Chace Crawford, Brooklyn Decker, Ben Falcone, Anna Kendrick, Matthew Morrison, Dennis Quaid, Chris Rock, Rodrigo Santoro, and Joe Manganiello. It was directed by Kirk Jones. It opens on May 18, 2012 and is rated PG-13.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

By BRIAN TALLERICO
Content Director
HollywoodChicago.com
brian@hollywoodchicago.com

Ron Low's picture

Controversy is Genuine

The review is helpful and I’ll be skipping the film. But the book it’s “based on” was indeed mired in controversy about circumcision. Recent editions are much more strongly in favor of child’s basic human right to keep all his healthy normal parts.

ziggy one of the best's picture

What to expect

I enjoy all the happy ending except 4 the poor girl that lose the child

Manny be down's picture

What to expect when expecting

I love they told the true feeling that these lady has to go to in order to has a child

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