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What To Expect When You're Expecting - Review

What To Expect When You're Expecting

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 2.5 out of 5

FOR a film that was conceived from a pregnancy guide What To Expect When You’re Expecting isn’t as bad as you may have been expecting.

True, it labours the point, gives birth to a number of characters that are (at best) difficult to like and gets a lot wrong. But thanks to some winning performances and the odd bit of easy-to-relate to humour there is enough to entertain, particularly if you’re planning to expect or have ever been expecting. And that counts for both sexes.

The film adopts the Valentine’s Day approach of following a group of characters through the trials and tribulations of pregnancy, from point of conception to birth.

These include Cameron Diaz’s famous fitness freak, Jules, and her Celebrity Dance partner, Evan (played by Glee‘s Matthew Morrison), whose pregnancy is unplanned and a media sensation, as well as Elizabeth Banks’ long-suffering baby shop owner Wendy who has been trying forever to get pregnant with her put-upon husband, Gary (Ben Falcone).

Then there’s Gary’s ultra-competitive ex-racing driver father (Dennis Quaid) whose latest wife (Brooklyn Decker) is expecting twins and fledgling couple Rosie and Marco (Anna Kendrick and Chace Crawford) who have fallen pregnant after their first real sleepover.

Thrown into this already crowded mix is Jennifer Lopez’s children’s photographer Holly, who is looking to adopt from Africa with her reluctant husband Alex (Rodrigo Santoro) and a gaggle of dads (led by Chris Rock) who drop pearls of ‘daddy wisdom’ in between supplying the comic relief.

Needless to say, the multi-character format doesn’t help the contrived nature of proceedings and often feels like it’s trying too hard to cover a lot of the permutations covered by Heidi Murkoff’s guide.

But it also means that for every character or situation you may struggle to like, there’s one or two that you should be able to get behind.

Hence, Banks and Falcone provide the film with its most down to earth and relatable couple, and are nicely played by both, while Kendrick and Crawford get the big dramatic curve as well as the harsher side of trying for a child.

Chris Rock’s dad’s club, meanwhile, is a blast (if under-used) even though a recurring gag involving one of their accident-prone kids feels a little mean.

It’s perhaps all the more of a shame, therefore, that a film based on a guide that’s sole purpose is to tell pregnancy as it is should populate itself with one too many characters who aren’t drawn from real-life.

Diaz’s Jules is a prime culprit and a horrid creation whose OTT journey towards childbirth is uninspiring and often hideous to watch. It’s during her story arc, too, that the film panders to the reality TV crowd, thereby reminding viewers of the contrived and soulless nature of that form of entertainment.

Lopez’s unable to conceive prospective mother is also a Hollywood creation more than cut from real-life flesh and blood given that her particular brand of children’s photography involves underwater portraits of kids with sharks and whales at SeaWorld.

Still, at least her story sheds more light on the practice of adopting from overseas, which is eye-opening to say the least.

The inevitable multi-birth finale is as contrived and hysterical as you may anticipate but even so gives rise to one or two touching moments.

Overall, this ensemble panders more to the Hollywood formula for success than the real-life one but it isn’t without guilty pleasures.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 109mins
UK Release Date: May 25, 2012