Film review: What to Expect When You're ExpectingBy Guy Martin
October 31, 2012
KNOCKED Up, Nine Months, Juno, Look Who's Talking.
None of these are, nor can many of the multitude of films made about pregnancy and parenthood be, nearly as bad as What to Expect When You're Expecting.
Expect it to be bad and it will still be worse, but if you allow the successful book on which the film is based, or the strong cast, to fool you and expect it to be good, then you may find real-life parenthood less of a shock.
The pregnancy guide of the same name, written by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel, and first published 28 years ago, is now in its fourth edition and consistently tops best seller lists for self-help books.
If Kirk Jones’ film adaptation is still being shown in 28 years time, it will be a miracle.
The story follows five couples facing impending parenthood, each less interesting than the last. There is Cameron Diaz as a contestant on a celebrity dance contest who falls pregnant with her dance partner’s baby, and a food-stall owner who experiences the same with the man from the stall next door.
Elizabeth Banks’ character runs a baby boutique and finally becomes pregnant with her husband, whose racing driver father is expecting twins with a younger woman, while Jennifer Lopez is desperate to adopt as she has difficulty conceiving with her husband, who is unsure about being a parent at all.
Adding to the stellar cast are Chris Rock and three others who make up the so-called ‘dude group’ comprising of four fathers expert at pushing their babies around the park, passing on advice to men whose partners are expecting, and generally telling jokes.
They are neither credible nor, unfortunately, are they funny, as if they were it may provide some relief from following the tiresome trials and tribulations of the hapless couples as they experience pregnancy.
Neither the highs nor lows of this period are believably, or amusingly, portrayed, and any empathy the viewer experiences for the characters is sympathy for the babies who will be born to such uninspiring parents.
The film’s series of unlikely coincidences and connections linking the couples, such as one pair arriving at a bar while another leave and several simultaneously descending on the same hospital, are reminiscent of scenes from Love Actually, but without its wholehearted embracing of the ridiculous.
This is one to avoid.