Review: What to Expect When You’re Expecting (2012)

Directed by: Kirk Jones | 110 minutes | comedy, drama, romance | Actors: Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Banks, Chace Crawford, Brooklyn Decker, Ben Falcone, Anna Kendrick, Matthew Morrison, Dennis Quaid, Chris Rock, Rodrigo Santoro, Joe Manganiello, Rob Huebel, Tom Lennon, Amir Talai, Rebel Wilson, Wendi McLendon-Covey

The title makes no bones about it: with a film like “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” you know what to expect: all the ins and outs of pregnancy. There is a lot of fun to tell about that, because of course it is not a pink cloud in which a couple is about three quarters of a year. There are countless funny situations that are perfect for a comedy. And to be able to laugh, you don’t have to be in that phase of life yourself. “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” is loosely based on Heidi Murkoff’s self-help books. The film follows five couples who all get pregnant at the same time.

Jules (Cameron Diaz) is the first and also the oldest pregnant lady to come into the picture. As the presenter of a weight loss program, she stands her ground and she maintains that strong attitude throughout her pregnancy. The main stumbling block she and her partner Evan (Matthew Morrison) must overcome is whether or not their son should be circumcised.

Gary Cooper (Ben Falcone), whose name isn’t the only thing he blames on his father, was once a participant in Jules’ reality show and – after two years of fruitless trying – is expecting a baby with his wife Wendy (Elizabeth Banks). Wendy owns a baby supply store and is a staunch supporter of breastfeeding. Her romanticized ideas about pregnancy do not seem to correspond to the harsh reality: at every stage she develops new physical discomforts.

Gary’s father Ramsey (Dennis Quaid) is a wealthy retired NASCAR racing driver whose girlfriend could have been Gary’s younger sister. This Skyler (Brooklyn Decker) is also pregnant, with twins. Nevertheless, being pregnant comes off her very easily. In addition, Ramsey takes every opportunity to compete with his son, so a confrontation is inevitable.

Young Rosie (Anna Kendrick) becomes pregnant after a one-night stand with Marco (Chace Crawford), the boy who left her during prom night and who she meets again after a long time. Can a relationship that skips a number of crucial steps survive?

Finally, photographer Holly (Jennifer Lopez) has longed for a baby for years, but because of her infertility, adoption is the only option. A good financial basis is actually lacking and her wife Alex (Rodrigo Santoro) is not really sure of his case either. But it seems that a baby from Ethiopia can be picked up soon… To help Alex, Holly advises him to talk to The Dudes, a group of four fathers who walk around the park for an hour every week, with baby carriers and prams. This group, led by the uncrowned king of the one-liners Chris Rock in this film, applies a number of rules à la Fight Club. The advice that the gentlemen pass on to the father-to-be do not lie and it is therefore not surprising that Alex has his doubts about his future role.

In itself it is a smart move to make an ensemble film out of it. After all, no pregnancy is the same and by following several fat bellies, many different aspects can be treated. However, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” is not only a film in which multiple storylines touch each other sideways, also various genres are mixed. And that results in a somewhat unbalanced whole. Unnecessary over-the-top slapstick (what is that about American comedies and golf carts?) Is interspersed with dramatic fragments that actually deserve a feature film instead of a few minutes of playing time in a half-hearted comedy. The “bromance” scenes in the park are nice, but we would have preferred to spend more time with the couples to get to know them better. The most fun and compelling scenes are for Elizabeth Banks and Ben Falcone, and along with those of Anna Kendrick and Chace Crawford, their storyline is the most interesting. Still, you don’t have to get bored during “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”. While the movie isn’t nearly as much fun as it could have been, time flies unnoticed. Unless, of course, you have continuous pressure on your bladder …

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