There is no better audience for a movie about having babies than a guy who just had one five weeks ago...except maybe a woman who just had one. My son Connor has made me tear my hair out and battle headaches but it's totally worth it. There were times when What to Expect When You're Expecting had the same effect on me, but it wasn't worth it. If you can make a new father hate your movie about babies, then I cringe to think what it did for everyone else.
What to Expect When You're Expecting is from director Kirk Jones (Nanny McPhee) and two writers who really haven't done anything before and hopefully never will again. How this group of misfits managed to put together a cast as A-list as they got is beyond me. The film touts the likes of Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Banks (Hunger Games, 40-Year-Old Virgin), Anna Kendrik (Up in the Air, 50/50), Dennis Quaid, Chris Rock, Tom Lennon (MTV's The State, I Love You, Man), and Rob Huebell (I Love You, Man, The Descendants). But be warned; whenever you see a cast this large of recognizable faces and it's NOT directed by Quentin Tarantino or Oliver Stone, it's probably God-awful.
The key issue with What to Expect is that it's episodic in nature and therefore shallow. It literally covers every single cliche you can think of that Hollywood has already covered in films about pregnancy and condensed them into one film. It's so full of plots that it's busting at the seams and it views as uncomfortably as that sounds. The film is a comedy but they do cover very serious subjects such as miscarriage, infertility and difficutly during births, but because it's a film that tries to be everything to everyone, those scenes are mere like footnotes and not given the time to treat them with respect. It actually comes across as insulting to anyone who can relate to any of the dramatic moments that it's treated so casually.
I feel sorry for all the actors in the film. None of them are weak and they give the best performances they could with such an awful script. Each indivigual story would have made a fine feature length film on its own and it's a shame they didn't do that. A series of films under the title What to Expect When You're Expecting would have been far more successful. It would have paid respect to a book title that has become a generational tradition for couples preparing for parenthood.
There are some highlights such as any of the scenes with the Dads Group. They are mostly funny and Chris Rock steals the scenes with some very quotable lines. Ben Falcone (Bridesmaids), who is Oscar-nominated Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids) real life husband, is also given a chance to have a breakout performance playing Banks' husband.
There is no doubt that this movie will do well and find fans. I would imagine that every new pair of parents would love to make this babysitter-worthy and make it a date night in hopes that they'll see something in the film that they can relate to. Don't worry everyone who thinks that, you will...because it simply has everything and covers all possible scenarios. Just remember that films that try to be everything to everyone quickly end up being watered-down films for no one. The only thing that you should be expecting from this film is let down (and I don't mean in terms of breast feeding).
What to Expect When You're Expecting (Rated PG-13)
Gavin Grade: D