Over the moon about starting a family, TV fitness guru Jules and dance show star Evan find that their high-octane celebrity lives don't stand a chance against the surprise demands of pregnancy. Baby-crazy author and advocate Wendy gets a taste of her own militant mommy advice when pregnancy hormones ravage her body; whileWendy's husband, Gary, struggles not to be outdone by his competitive alpha-Dad, who's expecting twins with his much younger trophy wife, Skyler. Photographer Holly is prepared to travel the globe to adopt a child, but her husband Alex isn't so sure, and tries to quiet his panic by attending a "dudes" support group, where new fathers get to tell it like it really is. And rival food truck chefs Rosie and Marco's surprise hook-up results in an unexpected quandary: what to do when your first child comes before your first date.
Genres:Comedy, Adaptation Running Time:1 hour 50 minutes Release Date:May 18, 2012 MPAA Rating:PG-13 (for for crude and sexual content, thematic elements and language) Distributor:Lionsgate
Cast And Credits
Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Banks, Chace Crawford, Brooklyn Decker
Mike Medavoy, Arnold Messer, David Thwaites
Where do babies come from? If you donâ€™t want your children to know the answer, you might direct them to â€œWhat to Expect When Youâ€™re Expecting,â€ since a young viewer will emerge from it without much of a clue.
Chris Rock, left, and Rodrigo Santoro learn about fatherhood in â€œWhat to Expect When Youâ€™re Expecting.â€ Or you might provide a summary: Sometimes when a mommy and a daddy love each other very much (or have hooked up after a few drinks on a warm evening), special music starts to play. Then the mommy throws up, urinates on a stick (not always in that order), gets very large and starts to scream. The daddy puts on a funny blue hat, a doctor stares hard at the mommyâ€™s knees, and a few minutes later a nurse walks in with a baby. Everybody â€” except the baby â€” cries.
Including this reviewer. I might as well admit that I have a soft spot (a fontanel?) for sentimental depictions of pregnancy and childbirth. And though I might seem physiologically unqualified to judge the accuracy of â€œWhat to Expect,â€ I have read the source material, Heidi Murkoffâ€™s best-selling book. Usually, as I recall, in a cold sweat in the middle of the night. The movie version is nowhere near as scary.
This is because, for all their obvious topical similarity, Ms. Murkoffâ€™s book and the film, directed by Kirk Jones from a script by Shauna Cross and Heather Hach, have diametrically opposing intentions. In print, â€œWhat to Expectâ€ performs a kind of hazing ritual, inducting a would-be mom into a world of anxiety, alarmism and hostile judgment served up with an encouraging smile.
Like the now notorious Time magazine â€œAre You Mom Enough?â€ cover, the book is a sign that childbirth, far from being a simple biological process, belongs to a culture that thrives on complication, competition and commodification. We seem to be especially good at inventing and marketing new ways for women to feel bad about themselves and resentful of one another.
Movies, in contrast â€” at least commercial ensemble comedies released by Hollywood studios â€” are engineered to make us feel good, to promote harmony and optimism. There are complications, of course: if â€œWhat to Expectâ€ had an index after the final credits, it would include entries for incontinence, infertility, flatulence and miscarriage. But the overall mood is of warm reassurance, and some of it is even pretty funny.
â€œWhat to Expectâ€ focuses its attention on five couples, four of them in Atlanta and one in Los Angeles. Some of the connections among them are revealed in passing, and they are arranged to provide a sampling of the varieties of reproductive experience. All of them are straight, and none of them are poor, but they nonetheless go about their business in amusingly different ways.
Cameron Diaz and Matthew Morrison are celebrities trying to turn a tabloid-ready accident into the basis of a sustaining bond. Ms. Diazâ€™s character, a television fitness guru, is reluctant to let her condition interfere with her career, which causes some predictable strains. Jennifer Lopez and Rodrigo Santoro, a photographer and a music producer, are preparing to adopt. He is a bit reluctant.
Elizabeth Banks, the owner of a maternity store and the author of a childrenâ€™s picture book about breasts, is eager to embrace â€œthe glowâ€ of pregnancy but encounters mostly discomfort and indignity. Her husband, Ben Falcone, is locked into a lifelong competition with his father (Dennis Quaid), a leathery retired racecar driver whose hot young wife (Brooklyn Decker) is carrying twins.
Apart from Mr. Quaid, there are no members of the grandparental generation around. The younger demographic is represented by Chace Crawford and Anna Kendrick, former high school almost-sweethearts who operate rival food trucks.
Food trucks, by the way, seem to have replaced yoga classes as an easy, quasi-hip contemporary reference to be exploited in romantic comedies. (See also: â€œThe Five-Year Engagement.â€) Enough already. On the other hand, the sight of a bunch of guys with babies strapped to their chests is always funny. So is the word vagina. Which means that if a guy with a baby strapped to his chest says â€œvagina,â€ it is by definition the funniest thing ever. The screenwriters seem to think so, anyway.
And if the guy happens to be Chris Rock, it might just be true. Mr. Rock shows up as the leader of a â€œdudesâ€™ groupâ€ of dads who gather for macho play dates in the park. They provide a little recognition for members of the audience whose relation to pregnancy is as witness, assistant and proximate cause. They also serve who only stand and say:
â€œYouâ€™re doing great, honey. Take a deep breath. Just like we read in the book.