Inspired by the perennial New York Times bestseller of the same name, ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’ is a big screen comedy about five couples whose intertwined lives are turned upside down by the challenges of impending parenthood.
Over the moon about starting a family, TV fitness guru Jules and dance show star Evan find that their high-octane celebrity lives don’t stand a chance against the surprise demands of pregnancy. Baby-crazy author and advocate Wendy gets a taste of her own militant mommy advice when pregnancy hormones ravage her body; while Wendy’s husband, Gary, struggles not to be outdone by his competitive alpha-Dad, who’s expecting twins with his much younger trophy wife, Skyler. Photographer Holly is prepared to travel the globe to adopt a child, but her husband Alex isn’t so sure, and tries to quiet his panic by attending a “dudes” support group, where new fathers get to tell it like it really is. And rival food truck chefs Rosie and Marco’s surprise hook-up results in an unexpected quandary: what to do when your first child comes before your first date?
‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’ is the commonly known pregnancy guide written by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel way back in the mid-1980’s which has gone on to get into the New York Times best seller list for multiple years since publication. It is now also a dramedy directed by Kirk Jones (Nanny McPhee) and boasting star packed cast that follows the lives of five couples all beginning on the journey of parenthood.
‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’ or as I shall refer to it for the remainder of this review ‘Expecting’, brings to the screen different couples from drastically differing backgrounds and circumstances and throws them all into the same life altering event of pregnancy. The audience follows the trials and tribulations of each couple as they each move towards the date of their deliveries.
Without delving too deeply into the many characters the film is juggling over its 110 minute running time, each couple is given enough material to deliver some generally light drama and comedy with a varied story arc across a common theme. With at least 12 significant characters it is a credit to the film that it tells its tale in a coherent manner and doesn’t become too convoluted and weighed down by its many sub-plots.
At times it feels as if the screenplay writers Shauna Cross and Heather Hach read the book, and tried to bring as many characteristics of pregnancy as possible into the film so that it feels like it is simply moving from one stereotypical pregnancy staple to the next. To their credit however, Cross and Hach have also developed some very funny material which is really capitalised on by a talented cast.
Elizabeth Banks delivered a stand out performance as did Cameron Diaz, but the entire case are in good form and supported well by the funny material they have to work with. There are a few moments where things slow down too much to deliver a message which is a little heavy handed and tends to take away the movie experience somewhat, however these moments are mostly reserved for the closing few scenes and don’t disrupt the overall flow of the film.
Yes ‘Expecting’ is obviously going to give you that predictable simultaneous birthing montage, and metaphorical baby references, it’s going to deliver a heavy handed message about parenthood and family, but it’s also going to deliver some laughs and entertainment, and it offers some funny scenes for guys who may be dragged along just slightly reluctantly to a screening in return for that second viewing of ‘Avengers’ a week or so ago.
If you aren’t fleeing from the notion of a comedy centred on 5 couples becoming parents, ‘Expecting’ is worth a viewing, I’m giving it 3 out of 5 stars and it is released in cinemas on 31 May 2012.