What To Expect When You're Expecting (2012) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

What To Expect When You’re Expecting (2012)

Danny no longer writes for Can't Stop the Movies, and can be reached at his fantastic site Pre-Code.com

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The lights came up. My fiancee was bouncing up and down in her chair.

"I want a baby!" She turned to me, "Doesn't this make you want a baby?"

"It makes me wish I'd gotten that vasectomy."

Easily the worst date movie since The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, What To Expect When You're Expecting is an ensemble picture about one of the most monumental human experiences subdued to the level of a three-camera sitcom. It's pleasant and restrained while covering every base, but uninspired.

Based on a popular how-to baby book of the same name, the people behind the movie obviously took a list of the important aspects of pregnancy and carefully split them up among characters. One woman has a quiet, pleasant pregnancy, another can't control her bodily functions. One woman can't get pregnant, another does so on accident. Et cetera.

I'm going to guess there's a chapter in the book about responsibilities when you're a father, and how you need to function in an environment of trust and non-judging. And kid tossing.

This is an ensemble movie, first and foremost, and contains more character actors than you can shake a rattle at. For the actual star wattage you have Jennifer Lopez, Cameron Diaz, Dennis Quaid, Anna Kendrick, and Chris Rock as well of a stable of bit part comedians ready to wheel on and make their faces.

The main character-- or the one who goes through the most shit, to be fair-- is Wendy (Elizabeth Banks). The owner of a store focused on baby items, she's also the writer of a children about how amazing breast feeding is. Since she's completely baby obsessed, the movie makes her work through the inglorious side of the process, putting poor Elizabeth in as the emblem as a sort of worst case scenario pregnancy.

Well, almost. The film does briefly touch on miscarriages, but by that I mean it happens and one character is quite upset by it, but this movie isn't about psychological ramifications or even the connection between parents and their nebulous ideas of what creating new people is. It's about these people in a silly situation, that ends with everyone smiling, hugging and realizing that disagreements are temporary when a baby comes along.

Which, hell, may be true. Maybe parenthood turns everything into that, a world where Urkel keeps popping by and Mr. Belvedere can't ever seem to help but smile patiently while the crowd applauds in the background.

Yay, this movie has dolphins! Everyone loves dolphins! (Note: Except Jacob. See his review of Dolphin Tale for further details.)

But it's so, so goddamn hard to buy. The movie itself dotes upon a scene where Banks, giving a keynote speech at a convention, throws away her cards and admits that it's a miserable, ugly experience. She declares that the entire marketing of pregnancy-- from the magazines, to the thousands of products-- all fall into the trap of being glossy, misleading pap.

Well, guess what fucking movie falls into the exact same trap? What To Expect When You're Expecting makes its cake and eats it too. It doesn't sugarcoat pregnancy, but it touches on ideas and refuses to commit to them. When one couple gets into a fight about circumcision, we get to hear arguments both for and against-- and then that couple has a daughter.

People who are into babies-- you weirdos know who you are (especially you, Anne Geddes)-- will submerge themselves into this film. I hate using this in a review-- really, truly, hate saying this-- but this ain't for me. I've got a lot of living to do before I get to the period in my life that I look at the human birthing process with anything more than barely contained fear.

I'm that guy in the middle, only with more head shaking. Oh, and Thomas Lennon cannot keep away from the phallic objects in this movie. Jeesh.

There's two other quick observations about the movie I wanted to fit in before I never thought about this movie again. This movie's set in Atlanta, which means two important things: Delta Airlines pops up surprisingly often, and the complete lack of any form of antebellum accents.

Well, the former isn't too surprising (sponsorship dollars also seemed to flow freely from the California Pizza Kitchen), and the latter is only more troubling when I try and align it with a movie I saw just a few weeks ago, The Lucky One. The only characters in both movies with any trace of an accent are the antagonists. In Lucky it was the cop and his family who kept coming between Zac Effron and some sweet muscly sex. Here it's the pain-free mother-in-law of Banks' character who has just enough of a drawl to paint her as a redneck-- she's married in the film to a former NASCAR driver for further effect.

What does it say about America's view of the South when it populates its cities with pretty Hollywood actors while only showing the faintest trace of the city's heritage or culture? Are we marching further and further towards homogeneity, reality be damned? Hell, I'm just skeptical enough to believe that this movie was set in Atlanta just to have an excuse as to why we watch a minute long Delta commercial in the middle of the film. Is there anything else here that makes it not seem so?

Whatever. This movie made my urethra weld itself closed. Unless you're expecting to be expecting, I wouldn't recommend it.

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Posted by Danny

Comments (4) Trackbacks (0)
  1. I know many people hate this and don’t want to be bothered with it, but honestly, it’s not that bad. It won’t be the perfect flick for guys by any means, but if you want, you can really enjoy it. You just have to get all of the certain cliches and schmaltzy moments. Good review Danny.

  2. I was thinking about seeing this film simply because of the weather (and not really feeling like aything depressing at the moment), but your review has changed my mind I guess. If it is even half as bland as you suggest, then maybe I should wait a couple of more years before romantic comedies come back to the level from the 80s. Nowadays, they simply seem to be all about the same thing

    • It’s not a terrible movie, but it’s not really romantic at all. It’s mostly a vessel to dissect how great pregnancy is, which makes it pretty underwhelming. But if you do end up seeing it and enjoying it, feel free to come back later and call me a hack. Thanks for the comment!

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