Full disclosure: I was worried about this movie going in, and the first few minutes didn’t make me feel much better. And I had all of these one-liners ready for my opener, too! “Expecting is a great argument for contraception!” “Expecting miscarries!” Thinking that one toed the line, I was going to jump right over it with “Abort Expecting!” (but I decided not to write that one down, even). Or simply, “Breach!”
And here’s yet another B.Y.O.B. (Bear Your Own Bias) from me; I can’t stand Cameron Diaz.
I could never really find Something About Cameron to be particularly alluring. Not saying she isn’t attractive woman (although her recent facework really shows in her delivery room scenes); she just bugs. But I wasn’t always this way. In fact, one of the few times she was not portrayed as The It Girl of the film, I thought she was marvelous (“Being John Malkovich”). But then some Hollywood mogul got the idea that having a scene in which Cameron Diaz dances is box-office gold, and I have largely been treated to claptrap ever since.
“What To Expect When You’re Expecting” is no different, literally starting off with a dance number from a surprisingly fit Diaz on a fictitious reality TV show. The stereotypical pregnancy jokes that I knew were coming didn’t help either: at least three Pregnant Puking jokes, at least five Pregnant Peeing jokes, and weirdly, three very distinct mentions of Delta Airlines (?).
The cast also had me feeling iffy. Jennifer Lopez is more of a dancing musician than an actress, and again, Diaz had top billing. But making me feel much better was Elizabeth Banks and Anna Kendrick, and a host of folks from “Bridesmaids” in both supporting (Wendi McLendon-Covey
and Rebel Wilson, who gets some great lines), and lead roles; like Ben Falcone…
…and therein lies the true power of this estrogen-fest: the guys.
Amazingly it’s the men’s roles who supply most of the yucks in “Expecting,” which isn’t surprising when you look more closely at the full cast: Chris Rock, Rob Huebel, and Thomas Lennon in addition to the aforementioned secret-weapon, Falcone. That’s a lot of folks, and I’m not even mentioning many others in other roles (like Dennis Quaid). It may be difficult to fit that many folks in, but the writers attempt to in a “Crash”-meets-“Babies” kind of way. But it’s the storylines of these various guys who really save the day on a few levels. For one, many a woman will be dragging their man to see this film, and it helps that there is not only eye-candy for both parties in the form of Brooklyn Decker and Joe Manganiello, but a healthy contingent of guys in the film. Guys who get most of the good lines.
“Expecting” also tries to give everybody a bit of everything; subplots involving family dynamics, parenting ups and downs, those who want babies as opposed to those that have them unexpectedly, those who adopt them, and those that have them and lose them. The writers also try and inject some weirdly placed melodrama that is luckily rescued before it gets too much, and cover nearly every kind of delivery-room scenario you’ve heard of. Meanwhile, director Kirk Jones does what he does best, and tries to keep the viewer’s eye on the ball of relationships. But with all of those bases trying to be covered, many of the storylines don’t get as much screentime as others, or as much as they might require. Subsequently, some of the storylines are developed satisfactorily, and some are not. In the end, “Expecting” is yet another harmless ode to the joys of parenting (what I expected), but with some pretty funny parts courtesy of mainly The Guys involved (which was not what I was expecting).
Overall Score for “What To Expect When You’re Expecting” from Rich Bonaduce: B-
“What To Expect When You’re Expecting” is rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, thematic elements and language.
Directed by: Kirk Jones