Movie Review: ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’

May 19, 2012 Updated: September 29, 2015
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(L-R) Rob Huebel, Amir Talai, Chris Rock, and Thomas Lennon in the comedy-drama-romance ;What to Expect When You're Expecting.' (Courtesy Lions Gate Entertainment)

What to Expect When You’re Expecting is a classic example of what happens when you have a semi-interesting idea but then fail to execute it. Inspired by the best-selling nonfiction book that has sold over 35 million copies worldwide, the film features five couples who are faced with very different pregnancy situations.

TV fitness trainer Jules (Cameron Diaz) and her on-screen dance partner Evan (Matthew Morrison) end up fast-tracking their relationship when she discovers she’s pregnant.

Then we have the Cooper family: Wendy Cooper (Elizabeth Banks) and Gary (Ben Falcone) are ecstatic to find out she’s pregnant after trying for two years. However, Gary’s alpha dad, Ramsey (Dennis Quaid), and his much-younger trophy wife, Skyler (Brooklyn Decker), are also pregnant at the same time. Competition ensues when Wendy ends up having a difficult pregnancy while Skyler breezes through it on her 5-inch stilettos without gaining any weight.

And what would an ensemble film be without Jenny from the Block? Jennifer Lopez plays Holly, a photographer who is infertile and decides to adopt with her husband Alex (Rodrigo Santoro).

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Chris Rock (L) and Rodrigo Santoro (R). (Melissa Moseley/ Lions Gate Entertainment)

The final couple consists of the super-talented Anna Kendrick as Rosie, a food truck owner who ends up getting more than she wanted after a one-night stand with Marco (Chace Crawford).

What in the world are these couples doing in this movie? Well, while one can certainly appreciate the filmmakers’ attempt to showcase the myriad of circumstances surrounding the ubiquitous question of whether one wishes to procreate, ultimately the film is unsuccessful in getting the audience to invest in these couples and their stories.

It feels like a careless salad bowl—a little bit of this, a dollop of that, a pinch of this. The components are thrown in but without enough care to really engage viewers, outside of a few empty laughs along the way (mostly from comic legend Chris Rock).

While certain ensemble films have worked very well—Traffic and Crash—some recent efforts such as Garry Marshall’s Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve have missed the mark by a mile as a result of the lack of attention to the storyline behind each character and, frankly, crowding the script with too many characters.

Unfortunately, What to Expect falls into the latter category.

For the pregnant women out there who are looking forward to seeing this one, my advice would be to keep your expectations very low.

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