Saturday, September 22, 2012

What To Expect When You're Expecting

This is a hard review for me to write. I know Lara's not going to like what I have to say... particularly since just looking at this poster makes me want to groan. As you can probably guess, this movie isn't from the genre that usually hits my sweet spot. I'm not the biggest fan of romantic comedies, particularly when it deals with subject matter that alienates my gender so completely. I'm not saying that every movie has to be entirely accessible for the husbands of the girls these movies are really meant for, but I would like to enjoy it on some level. I don't hate rom-coms. In fact, there are plenty that I actually enjoy. "While You Were Sleeping", "You've Got Mail", and even "The Switch" are examples of fun rom-coms that I can have fun with, while I would classify "(500) Days of Summer" as possibly my all-time favorite in the genre. Unfortunately, "What To Expect When You're Expecting" isn't that kind of movie... not even a little.

This movie is designed as the ultimate manifesto to pregnancy, showing different types of experiences that women often go through in an exaggerated and "comedic" way. It takes the template of an ensemble comedy, melding together various storylines in a rather clumsy, haphazard way like the recent "Valentine's Day" or "New Year's Eve" films. One woman is the uber control freak (Cameron Diaz) who is a host of a reality weight-loss TV show (an obvious play on Jillian Michaels from "Biggest Loser"). Another story is that of a woman who's greatest desire is to be a mother and experience pregnancy (Elizabeth Banks). She writes children's books about breast-feeding and can't wait to have a baby herself as soon as possible. The instant she gets pregnant, however, her father-in-law (Dennis Quaid) informs them that his trophy wife (Brooklyn Decker) is pregnant as well. Then, a young teenage girl (Anna Kendrick) gets pregnant after a "romantic" night with a high school crush. Meanwhile, an infertile photographer (Jennifer Lopez) plans an adoption from an African village with her slightly overwhelmed husband. To try to cope with the stress of it all, he is encouraged by his over-eager wife to start assimilating with the other husbands in the neighborhood who take daily strolls through the park with their kids (Chris Rock and co.). Each prospective mother goes through their own issues until they all conveniently wind up at the same hospital at the same time for the laborious (pun intended) climax.

There are a lot of different stories going on in this film. Clearly the movie wants to depict every single aspect of pregnancy from every angle imaginable (hence the title), but I would argue that it gives the short shrift to each of them by combining them in such an unsatisfying way. None of the characters feel fully developed and the only one I even care about (Elizabeth Banks) is probably due more to the actress playing her than the story arc she's given. Like I've already admitted, however, I am not this movie's targeted demographic, as evidenced by the fact that my favorite part of the movie was the Dwyane Wade cameo at the beginning. Every single joke in this movie fell completely flat for me, while Lara laughed at almost all of them. At one point she even asked me to leave because my lack of interest was starting to annoy her. I stuck it out, however, and was amazed at how much she ended up enjoying the film. She was so touched by the finale (spoiler alert, the pregnant women give birth) that tears were streaming down her cheeks by the time credits rolled.

I guess what that means is that I recommend this movie for women that are even remotely interested in pregnancy or motherhood. People like me, on the other hand (of the male gender), I advise to stay as far away from this film as possible. I say "as possible" because I know some of you won't be able to avoid this. If your significant other wants to see this movie, try to think of a polite way to get out of it... such as a sudden pile of homework you've been neglecting and really have to finish (trust me, it'll be more fun than this movie). In the end, I can't completely condemn it as it undoubtedly struck a cord with it's intended audience. I give "What To Expect When You're Expecting" a generous two stars.

WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU'RE EXPECTING is rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, thematic elements and language.