There is a glimpse of the book early on in the movie What to Expect When You're Expecting, and then it is ditched. What is served up instead of advice, or even a plot, is a hodge-podge of pregnancy vignettes, featuring five couples who live in Atlanta. They are all white, all straight, and all going through pretty typical pre-baby travails. And the film is capped off by the highly predictable in-tandem rush to the hospital, as three of the couples give birth simultaneously. Uh huh. Yawn. Grrr.
|The dudes group, cruising through the park.|
In a blatant attempt to bring in the youngsters, Chace Crawford and Anna Kendrick play rival food truck owners (talk about trying to hit all the current trends at once) who find themselves pregnant after a one-time hook-up. They could have and should have been in their own rom-com. The two have some genuine chemistry, and if they were given better material, they could have stolen the movie, but in this silly Valentine's Day-like celebrity cameo kaleidoscope, they are really out of place.
The two couples at the center of the movie are a father (Dennis Quaid) and son (Ben Falcone) whose wives are both expecting (Brooklyn Decker and Elizabeth Banks, respectively). Their storyline gets to the competitive nature of pregnancy, and Banks gets to exhibit all of the stuff that isn't usually rhapsodized about when you're pregnant — flatulence, having to pee all the time, mood swings, etc. Their scenes together are goofy and over-the-top, but at least they are attempting to make the audience laugh. Most of the other plot lines fall very flat.
The only genuinely funny performances in What to Expect When You're Expecting are provided by Chris Rock and his accident-prone toddler. Rock functions as a guru-of-sorts to a local daddy group, who meet for dude time, taking regular strolls in the park with their young-uns. Every time his crew is onscreen is a good time. Paired with Bank's disillusioned mama-to-be, maybe the movie could have really have gone in the direction of pulling the rug out from under all of the "pregnancy is wonderful" stuff we are used to hearing. But it is doubtful that What to Expect When You're Expecting's author Heidi Murkoff would have approved of that interpretation. So what we are left with are some stale baby jokes and the "when I had my baby" stories that people are dying to share, but no one is ever that excited to hear.