What To Expect When You’re Expecting
A witless and bland work based on the pregnancy self-help book
‘You don’t know what love is until you’ve wiped someone’s ass,’ offers one of the many baby-boomers in Kirk Jones’ (Waking Ned, Everybody’s Fine) multi-stranded adaptation of the bestselling self-help book about the dos and don’ts of pregnancy. Concocting plot-strands to illustrate the book’s educational advice presents an ideal opportunity for a studio blandfest, and What To Expect When You’re Expecting's philosophy provides an unappetizing fusion of broody sentiment and mild scatology.
Featuring five Atlanta-based couples facing up to the realities of child-bearing, the main storylines feature Cameron Diaz as a reality TV star Jules, Jennifer Lopez as Holly, a sea-life photographer who decides to adopt an African child, and Elizabeth Banks as Wendy, a breast-milk evangelist who fears being overshadowed by her mother-in-law’s pregnancy by playboy race car driver Ramsey (Dennis Quaid). The most affecting strand is that concerning fast-food operative Rosie (Twilight’s Anna Kendrick) whose unplanned pregnancy is so heavily foreshadowed that it’s clear things will go wrong within the first half-hour. In a film which offers such an absurdly sanitized version of motherhood, it’s Rosie’s bittersweet tale that offers the film’s only touch of subtlety or realism.
Otherwise, Jones’s film is just a glossy soap-opera, with vapid dilemmas about circumcision and parental responsibilities raised and then dismissed without interest. Particularly grating is the introduction of the ‘dudes’ group’, a group of new fathers who march with their strollers around a public park, led by Chris Rock, dispensing sub-sitcom repartee about expensive college fees and vaginal rejuvenation.
What To Expect When You’re Expecting is the kind of witless schmatz-fest that gives women’s pictures a bad name; dodging all the difficult questions about modern pregnancy, it offers the kind of safe, antiseptic drama that only a Stepford wife might enjoy.
General release from Wed 25 May.