“Adapted” (cough) from the world-wide best-selling pregnancy books, What to Expect When You’re Expecting shares the story of five couples and their experiences with pregnancy. Check out the review after the jump.
What to expect with this film is exactly what the trailer [view here] shows – you could even say it delivers on it’s promises….. If you watch the trailer and chuckle and think the film looks sweet, then you’ll probably have a good time. If you watch the trailer and think, ‘what is this trash?’, then it’s safe to say that this is not the film for you.
The five couples in the film cover most of the clichés you would imagine – there’s the celebrity couple, the unexpected pregnancy, the too-perfect pregnancy, the couple dying to be parents, and the couple adopting. The film follows the five couples from when they find out they are pregnant, through to the end their respective pregnancies. We see each of the couples dealing with different problems that range from embarrassing bladder issues, to the more serious issue of complications and problems during labour. We get to see “girl-talk” between the woman and their friends, and we also spend some time with a father’s group, where the guys hang out and compare their parenting successes and failures.
The success of films like this rests on a combination of how interesting the characters are, and how good the comedy is. Sadly, the comedy generally falls flat (having a weak bladder really isn’t funny); while the characters for the most part are little more than stereotypes. Perhaps if the film had focused on only a few couples, the characters would have had more screen-time, and therefore they may have had more depth. The film switches between the different characters so quickly that it really feels like a montage rather than a film.
While the couple who experience an unplanned pregnancy have a slightly more interesting (and relatable) story than the other couples, they are given so little screen-time that it almost feels that the film is being disrespectful. There was a chance to do something different here – but I guess a “comedy” wasn’t the place for that.
The film is packed with known-names, and yet none of them really do much here. You have to wonder what happened to Dennis Quaid – what is he doing here? Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lopez are positively boring; while Chris Rock has seen finer comedic moments in his career. I’m not sure who thinks Rebel Wilson is funny, because she really really isn’t. Well maybe she is, but not when she is again cast as the daft, inappropriate friend character (sound familiar? – see Bridesmaids & A Few Best Men). The few decent laughs in the film come from Brooklyn Decker, who plays the positively perfect Skyler. All woman know someone like her, someone for whom everything seems to be all rainbows and sunshine. Her character is a little silly, but you can’t help but laugh – and at least Decker makes an effort.
The most frustrating thing about the film is it did have some lovely moments. Amongst the awful comedy, there were some serious issues touched on, and some truly nice moments shared. The joy that a parent has at meeting their child for the first time is a universally understood feeling. The film has a decent heart and celebrates the importance of family and the miracle of life – It’s a real shame that it does so it such a messy, stereotypical, and uninteresting way.
Director: Kirk Jones
Writer(s): Shauna Cross & Heather Hach (screenplay), Heidi Murkoff (books)
Starring: Cameron Diaz, Matthew Morrison, Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Banks, Anna Kendrick
Runtime: 110 minutes
Release date(s): Australia & New Zealand: May 31s 2012; USA: May 18 2012.