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Film Review – What to expect when you are expecting

Director: Kirk Jones
Screenplay: Shauna Cross, Heather Hach
Cast: Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Chace Crawford, Chris Rock, Denis Quaid, Elizabeth Banks, Ben Falcone, Anna Kendrick, Brooklyn Decker
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Rating: ***
Venue. Ster kinekor, Maerua Mall, Cine 5

What to expect when you are expecting.
Inspired by the New York Times bestseller of the same title, What to expect when you are expecting is a humorous big screen romantic comedy about five Atlanta couples whose intertwined lives are turned upside down by the challenges of impeding parenthood.
One story is of a reality show host Jules (Diaz) who unexpectedly gets pregnant by another reality show host Evan. They hooked up while competing on the show, ‘Celebrity Dance Factor’. She throws up on live television and their quarrel is whether to have their baby circumcised or not.
Another story is that of Wendy (Banks) and her husband Gary (Falcone) who after desperately trying to get pregnant find out that they are expecting and Wendy is over the moon in the land of the ‘preggies’. Holly (Lopez) is a photographer who is not able to conceive and decides to go the Angelina Jolie route and adopts an African orphan. And then there is Gary’s father Ramsey (Quaid) with his young gorgeous wife Skyler (Decker), whose pregnancy and labour is a breeze. The final couple is Rosie (Kendrick) and Marco (Crawford) who find out that they are also expecting after a one night stand. Somehow all these characters end up connected with each other, despite how far fetched the situations become.
I am not sure if the large cast does the film justice. Director Kirk Jones and writers Shauna Cross and Heather Hach could have given us more comedic moments but failed to do so. Instead they give us comedy that’s not so hilarious – the movie is all over the grid going from pure joy in some scenes to heart breaking grief in the next, making it an over the top drama instead of the comedy that it is supposed to be. The movie suffers from the inability to make up its mind, and the paternal cult ‘the dude pack’ makes things worse. There is no relevance of a bunch of guys that walk in the park with their babies on strollers and give unwanted and unnecessary advice about being a father. And Rock’s son Jordan, who keeps falling all over the place and getting hit by full beer cans, is not so cute or funny either. The dude pack utters the silliest lines to try and be funny. Rock’s performance is pretentiously over the top and this will go down in history as one of his worst movies.
The movie does however have good parts and somehow manages to portray the elements of what pregnancy is all about and this is all thanks to Bank’s character Wendy. She yearns for the pregnancy glow that everyone talks about when pregnant. But she does not get what she bargained for. “ I just wanted the glow. The one they promise you on the cover of those magazines, well I’m calling it pregnancy sucks. Making a human being is really hard. I have no control over my body or my emotions” this after experiencing a bad case of nausea, fatigue, stretch marks, and the inability to control her farts. To her, this is very different from her mother-in-law’s pregnancy which was perfect.
Banks gives it her all and is able to go as over the top as only pregnant heroines are allowed to. She brings comedy to the comedy and gives pregnant ladies the ability to relate to pregnancy. She really shows what to expect when you are expecting.
For the lack of male comedy, there is however the element of support. All the first-time fathers really care for their partners despite their partners’ raging hormones, unstable emotions, stubbornness and pregnancy melodrama.
What to expect when you are expecting is supposed to be a comedy about babies and the challenges of pregnancy. And it is expected to be funny but it is not. Its not your typical romantic comedy. It is also not saved by its deeper elements. The emotional depth is as shallow as a saucer. Real emotions only come to the surface at the end of the movie after the babies are born. Jennifer Lopez wasn’t so good and Chris Rock wasn’t so funny. It is like ‘Knocked Up’ times five couples, only with less humour.

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