Uncertainty, stress, and discomfort are all things that are to be expected when you are pregnant; however, those things really should not be expected when seeing a comedy about pregnancy, at least one would suppose. Sadly enough, What To Expect When You’re Expecting has about as many mood swings as a pregnant woman, and it doesn’t make for a successful movie. While the high points of the movie were excellent, and there were certainly many great moments, heartwarming and hilarious alike, the low points of the movie were truly horrible.
The movie, based on the New York Times bestseller of the same name, reveals the ups, downs, and in-betweens of what pregnancy is like, not only from the woman’s perspective, but the man’s perspective as well – something which I took away as an honest and refreshing change. The movie focuses on five different couples in different life stages, who must learn to cope with the unexpected that comes along with expecting a baby.
Photographer Holly (Jennifer Lopez) and Alex (Rodrigo Santoro) are the couple who can’t get pregnant. Holly wants a baby terribly, and is ready to adopt. Alex, though he is ready to make the steps necessary to adopt, becomes terrified and withdraws from Holly upon learning that the adoption process has gone far more quickly than he had anticipated.
Fitness guru (ala Jillian Michaels) Jules (Cameron Diaz) and dancer Evan (Matthew Morrison) are the C-List Hollywood power couple. Their lives are splashed across the tabloids, and their quick romance on the set of the Dancing with the Stars spoof show turns into a lifelong commitment when Jules becomes pregnant. Their challenge is dealing with fame and their high-pressure careers while struggling to cope with making plans for the future, though they each have different ideas when it comes to raising a baby.
A one-night fling becomes a big decision for competing food truck owners Rosie (Anna Kendrick) and Marco (Chace Crawford). This young couple faces a huge strain when tragedy strikes – and I would reveal more, but it’s a big spoiler, so I won’t.
Natural methods and nurtured parenting is the life for Breast Choice parenting store owner Wendy Cooper (Elizabeth Banks) and her husband Gary Cooper (Ben Falcone). When Wendy unexpectedly becomes pregnant after years of unsuccessful tries, she and Gary learn that the joys of pregnancy are not all that they are cracked up to be – and unfortunately for Wendy, spitefully so, as her “mother-in-law” Skyler manages to carry twins more breezily than a bright spring day.
The final couple, Gary’s father (and former racecar driver) Ramsey Cooper (Dennis Quaid) and his much, much younger wife Skyler (Brooklyn Decker) live life in the lap of luxury, and are not afraid to show it. Skyler’s pregnancy is the one every woman dreams of – no discomfort, no nausea, and most importantly, she looks amazing in her six-inch stilettos at eight months along.
As was my lackluster connecting from story to story in my description of these couples, so was the lack of flow from one couple to the next in the movie itself; and not only in cuts and structure, but also the stories themselves – some were incredibly heartfelt and flowed well; others, not so much.
For instance, the movie opens on the set of the knock-off Dancing with the Stars show (to be introduced to Jules and Evan)– horribly obnoxious and ridiculously over-the-top. Yet, when the scene ends and we are introduced to the remaining couples, there is a completely different vibe; and, while this could have been the intent, it made every time we were going back to their story even more torturous. For me, this duo was what ruined the movie entirely. Had this portion of the plot been cut out, I might have been more lenient in my final take on it.
While that is prime example of something that didn’t work, what worked really well was the plot/character addition of the daddy club. This group is something that Holly thinks would be good for Alex to get involved with to get a feel for fatherhood before they adopt. The club consists of the hilarious concoction of Vic (Chris Rock), Gabe (Rob Huebel), Craig (Thomas Lennon), and Patel (Amir Talai) – and their humor and honest, down-to-earth take on parenting is both amusing and eye-opening.
While the majority of the actors gave really amazing and, in the case of Jennifer Lopez, unexpectedly good performances, I have to say that the standout duo was most certainly Elizabeth Banks and Ben Falcone as the Coopers. Banks’ delivery (in every sense of the word) was not only comedically fantastic, but also the most relatable and believable (though I really can’t say from experience). Her character was not only increasingly fun to watch, but also made pregnancy out to be what it is – difficult, stressful, and not really that much fun at all – which, for the audience, was quite a trip.
All in all, while I really did enjoy a great deal in this movie, I don’t think it’s one that requires another visit to the theater. For me, the perhaps intentionally atrocious acting from Diaz and Morrison and the confusing cuts and awkward attempts at connecting the characters became both annoying and stupid the more the movie progressed. I would recommend this movie to anyone who actually is expecting their first child, or plans to in the near future, as it might lend a few comedic, albeit over-dramatized insights on the whole ordeal.
What To Expect When You’re Expecting – 6.5/10