PREPARE to keep your expectations low for the latest Hollywood ensemble rom com, What to Expect When You’re Expecting.
The title of the film is taken from the famous 1984 pregnancy how-to book, though the name is about all they have in common. The story follows five attractive couples as they get pregnant (one couple adopts) and eventually give birth.
For a film that claims to show how unpredictable life can be, the script is horribly predictable. The writing relies on broad depictions to appeal to a larger audience, which results in a washed-out story that uses heavy-handed clichés and stereotypes.
Naturally, the female characters all want to be pregnant and never show any doubt or fear in the face of that decision. Because, you know, all women want babies. Even the one-night-stand couple don’t consider other options. And of course, the men are the ones with doubts, unable to express their true feelings to their partners.
There is very little plot development and the resolutions to the problems the characters have are shallow. Towards the end of the film, there is a terribly clichéd speech – you know the one: the person prepares a speech and starts to give it but decides to throw it out and make a truly inspired one on the spot. Ironically, the speech is about how difficult pregnancy really is and how no-one really talks about it. And yet this film completely glosses over the many difficult problems the characters would have had!
Holly (Lopez) loses her job, but the consequences of that apparently have no effect on her eventual adoption. One character has a miscarriage and goes through the different stages of loss; but we never really see how that manifests beyond her not wanting to date a guy and then deciding to give him another chance.
The only silver lining to this film is Chris Rock making an appearance as the leader of a ‘dude club’, a group of dads who get together and let off steam. Any other laughs are few and far between.
If you’re thinking about seeing the film, abort mission.
What to Expect When You’re Expecting
Dir: Kirk Jones; US comedy, 2012, 110 mins; Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Banks
Premiered May 24