Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lopez provide the star power, but what’s missing is script power – the movie is a series of clichéd situations about impending pregnancy and how emotionally far apart men and women are when it comes to parenthood. The only subplot with any traction is the one between Anna Kendrick and Chace Crawford, playing rival food- truck chefs. They belong on The Food Network. Grade: C (Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, thematic elements and language.)
Five couples. Five babies. Ten FREAK OUTS! If anything is clear about What to Expect When You’re Expecting, no one has any idea what to expect, despite the best-selling book the film takes its inspiration from. This mom-com portrays a variety of hilarious and difficult parent-to-be experiences, from twins to adoption to miscarriage, offering a collage of what it means to be a modern mom — and dad.
Jules (Cameron Diaz), is a TV weight-loss coach who gets preggers by her dance partner during a stint on a Dancing-with-the-Stars-type show. He’s Jewish, she’s against genital rejiggering, but this new relationship faces a bigger challenge than whether or not to circumcise. Can fame-focused Jules check her self-centeredness at the nursery and come to terms with her biggest role yet — family member?
Breast-feeding expert Wendy, (Elizabeth Banks) is an author who thinks she knows all things natal, but seems to fall down the (dead) rabbit hole however, as soon as her pregnancy hormones kick in. Compounding the chemical chaos is the fact that her husband Gary (Ben Falcone), discovers his dad (Dennis Quaid) and young second wife (Brooklyn Decker) are also expecting — twins, no less! What should be good news turns into a near war as Gary’s race car driver dad can’t let off the gas when it comes to his competitive streak.
Holly (an unexpectedly vulnerable Jennifer Lopez), is a photographer who’s spent all her husband’s 401K money on IVF, only to be unsuccessful. She and hubby Alex (Rodrigo Santoro) have decided to adopt from Ethiopia, but still have the jitters, both reluctant to take this leap of faith.
Representing the reckless youngsters are food truckers Rosie (Anna Kendrick) and Marco (Chace Crawford), who seem appropriately overwhelmed when a one-night stand leaves Rosie pondering a nursery in her food truck (don’t worry, it’s against the health code). Can the foodies roll with a literal bun in the oven or will biology hit the brakes?
What to Expect is funniest in the “dudes group” scenes. Helmed by Chris Rock, a posse of dads and their little tykes meet in a park and tell daddy-dom like it is: rough.
What’s in the Hollywood water supply? First, director Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights), who should know better, clones himself as Michael Bay with Battleship. Now Kirk Jones (Waking Ned Devine) does a Freaky Friday body switch, becoming director Garry Marshall with the still-born What To Expect When You’re Expecting, an all-star dud that could be easily confused with Marshall’s Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve, except for the absence of Ashton Kutcher. Based on Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel’s best-selling 1984 pregnancy manual, but only in the sense that book and film share the same title, What-When hustles its five main expectant couples to the starting gate, saddles them with clichés, and whips the fire out of them
Despite the obvious parallels, What to Expect When You’re Expecting is not simply another Knocked Up, or New Year’s Eve, or Valentine’s Day. Unlike Knocked Up or even a film like L!fe Happens, it gives the expectant couple their just due. The film does get off to a bit of a slow start and has its moments of Chic-Flickery, but once it picks up steam, the comedy is consistent. Hilarious, honest and sometimes heartbreaking, What to Expect delivers.