Published May 17, 2012Was it the intention of Alliance Films to create a super-meta marketing campaign where trailers for What to Expect When You're Expecting failed to convey the true point of the film, thus leaving audiences flummoxed since the movie just wasn't what they were expecting? Probably not, but that's more entertaining than the actual film.
As the title suggests, this film is based on the titular, 28-year old-pregnancy Bible, so turning that work of non-fiction into a fictional narrative was obviously a no-brainer. The aforementioned trailers for the film suggested an anxiety-fuelled comedy anchored by a group of fathers who stroller-walk their kids through Central Park sharing war stories in a judgment-free zone.
But screenwriters Shauna Cross and Heather Hach went the He's Just Not that Into You route and crafted a series of vaguely interweaving couples stories, each handling their personalized brand of pregnancy: trying for two years (Elizabeth Banks and Ben Falcone), adoption (Jennifer Lopez and Rodrigo Santoro), May-December relationship (Brooklyn Decker and Dennis Quaid), one-night-stand (Anna Kendricks and Chace Crawford) and celebrity on-set romance (Cameron Diaz and Matthew Morrison). They create melodrama from the personality clashes, as we follow them from conception to the inevitable birthing montage.
Of course, none of the obstacles that stand in the way are actual real-life problems: too young, too broke, too irresponsible, too not-the-right-person to be my baby-daddy (or mommy). Each couple are clearly with "the one" and are fulfilling their duty as humans by becoming parents. Jennifer Lopez's rather stiff portrayal of a barren woman even bemoans the fact that she can't do the one thing a woman's supposed to do.
Buried deep in What to Expect When You're Expecting is a very funny film. Those dads in the park should really get their own Get Him to the Greek-style spin-off. And Banks and Bridesmaids' Falcone prove to be the only couple worth routing for. Subsequently, their scenes prove to be the funniest and most relatable.
Director Kirk Jones (Waking Ned Divine) manages to make a film better than the ones he's knocking off, which is an accomplishment. But its tone fluctuates from Apatow bro-mance to slapstick to melodrama so often that large chunks feel forced and uneven. But wringing a film that's just "okay" out of a how-to guide is more than any of us could have expected. (Alliance)