Inspired by the perennial New York Times bestseller of the same name, WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU'RE EXPECTING is a hilarious and heartfelt big-screen comedy about five couples whose intertwined lives are turned upside down by the challenges of impending parenthood.
Over the moon about starting a family, TV fitness guru Jules and dance show star Evan find that their high-octane celebrity lives don't stand a chance against the surprise demands of pregnancy. Baby-crazy author and advocate Wendy gets a taste of her own militant mommy advice when pregnancy hormones ravage her body; while Wendy's husband, Gary, struggles not to be outdone by his competitive alpha-Dad, who's expecting twins with his much younger trophy wife, Skyler. Photographer Holly is prepared to travel the globe to adopt a child, but her husband Alex isn't so sure, and tries to quiet his panic by attending a "dudes" support group, where new fathers get to tell it like it really is. And rival food truck chefs Rosie and Marco's surprise hook-up results in an unexpected quandary: what to do when your first child comes before your first date?
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Every film deserves a shot at appealing to a wide audience that includes the unintended viewer; What To Expect When You're Expecting never stood a chance. Following five women during their pregnancies already screams "chick flick," the inclusion of a dude's group helps to bring in the male demographic only slightly. What To Expect When You're Expecting is a movie about women, for women, and surrounded by women. What it is not is a fleshed out narrative for any one story in particular; each individual scenario is consistently cut short, forgotten, and then returned to in fits of time lapses to reveal again a brief snippet of said woman's experience with pregnancy, only to be looked over again and again.
The five women taking on pregnancy in What To Expect When You're Expecting all have different experiences, and the film does do a great job in outlining that no one trip towards motherhood is the same. The opening of the film introduces the viewer to one of the pregnant women in question, Jules (Cameron Diaz). It also sets the tone for the film and introduces the one connection all of the women will have throughout--reality television programming. The tone falls right in line with reality television, an inside look into impending motherhood without editing out the less than desirable side or the tragedy that can befall a pregnancy. What To Expect When You're Expecting takes the honesty route, from the women and the men's perspectives; those without children beware, the film may make you re-think parenthood. Jules' opening scene takes place during the final dance-off for the show "Celebrity Dance Factor," where her and her partner/father-to-be Evan (Matthew Morrison from "Glee") await the final decision on who will be crowned the winner. Jules is feeling nauseous, but the star of her own losing weight reality television show does not quit, and she performs her dance number regardless. They say one of the first signs of pregnancy is vomiting and Jules discovers this the hard way, and most embarrassing, on live television. The remaining four women will not suffer live-television humiliation but they will all struggle in their own way--besides one.
Holly (Jennifer Lopez) desperately wants to start a family with her husband Alex (Rodrigo Santoro) but her ovaries are not cooperative; adoption is the route being taken by Holly and Alex. While Holly may appear to be the character focused upon in this relationship it is actually Alex that has the stronger storyline. He is unsure about fatherhood, unprepared and afraid. The solution is to send him to "Dude's Group." Dude's Group is a group of father's, led by Chris Rock's Vic, who meet for a walk in the park each week to share their dad experiences. The second rule of Dude's Group is that you do not share with anyone what is said during Dude's Group--obviously they do not walk around praising their lives as fathers or husbands making for some key comedic moments. Shifting the greater focus of motherhood onto fatherhood in this particular relationship works well for the story overall. Holly is far too eager and excited to be a mother, and there are no bumps along the way in their adoption process to warrant any sort of story arc for the couple.
Brooklyn Decker's twenty-something Skyler wasn't trying for a baby with MUCH older husband Ramsey (Dennis Quaid). If there is one woman to dislike in What To Expect When You're Expecting it is Skyler, due to the fact that she is having the perfect pregnancy, sans any of the common ailments, including weight gain. At seven months Skyler is frolicking around in a teeny tiny bikini at her pool party baby shower. Her daughter-in-law, who is older than Skylar, naturally, is having the complete opposite pregnancy experience. Wendy (Elizabeth Banks) has been trying to conceive with her husband Gary (Ben Falcone) for the past two years; a frisky night full of wine and a movie in the park finally does the trick. But pregnancy is not the dream experience Wendy has been selling at her baby-themed store all these years, or in her children's book. It is a nightmare, and Banks' performance is what gives What To Expect When You're Expecting the majority of its comedic moments. There is humor in misery, and pregnancy has all sorts of avenues to address of the comedic sort.
Rounding out the five women is Rosie (Anna Kendrick), the poster child for why safe-sex is important. A one-night stand with Marco (Chace Crawford), whom she has known since high school, results in a pregnancy neither one of the food-truck runners were expecting. Rosie and Marco are the tragic story in What To Expect When You're Expecting, finding out that deciding to have a baby is just as difficult as losing one you never exactly wanted. Kendrick and Crawford do their absolute best in displaying the torn feelings over their situation given the soapy dialogue and awkward meetings between the two characters. Their story is far more engrossing even with its limited screen time than Diaz's Jules and Morrison's Evan fighting over whether to circumcise their son. The melodrama wins out over the bitchy type-A head-butting.
What To Expect When You're Expecting is full of memorable moments, showcasing the ups and downs and myriad of emotions for both men and women when expecting a child. It is the execution of the film that causes it to suffer; never clearly defining one story from the next and needlessly trying to intersect each one in unnecessary ways. The women are engaging, the men more than likely forgettable, but there is heart in the picture. The modern landscape of our times presents varying ways in which people have children, and very different approaches to parenthood for each individual. What To Expect When You're Expecting does its best to highlight them all but simply falls into the trappings of serial programming and soap-opera style execution, never letting the characters stories move beyond carefully selected glimpses of a journey.
Pregnancy is a beautiful thing, when you're not pregnant--this one statement could describe Elizabeth Banks' Wendy's experience with pregnancy. Thankfully for the viewer Wendy is having a terrible time being pregnant because her character provides nearly all of the memorable comedic moments in What To Expect When You're Expecting. Wendy is very honest about what is happening to her body, and a tad to much information is given repeatedly about her ordeal that gives way to laugh-out-loud scenes scattered throughout the film. Discussing peeing yourself a little, uncontrollable gas, backne, hemorrhoids, and all sorts of other inappropriate topics in conversation is what Wendy does, and Banks nails each and every line and even more so with her facial expressions showcasing her absolute misery and uncomfortableness. What To Expect When You're Expecting deals with all the types of pregnancies you can have, but it is the most miserable of them all that gets the most laughs, all thanks to Elizabeth Banks.
The other slightly humorous part of the film, besides the occasional with the women other than Wendy, comes in the form of the "Dude's Group." Led by Chris Rock's Vic the Dudes are not a group of men to be envied; they stroll through the park with strollers, kids strapped to their chests, bottles at the ready, and look ridiculous. They are a group of dad's who envy the single guy they run into all the time, Joe Manganiello's Davis, and worship at his feet. The stories the dad's tell about their lives with children are oftentimes funny, and make the Dude's Group scenes more than bearable. You would think Chris Rock would have more great lines than he does, or that Thomas Lennon's Craig would not be subjected to repeat the same joke over and over again about his son's name or the need to get a high-five from Davis. But the Dude's do have their comedic moments, more subtle than brass, but overall mildly entertaining.
Comedy, Drama, Romantic Comedy
May 18, 2012