In the same form as the awful Valentine’s Day and the even worse New Year’s Eve comes the latest ensemble piece What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Loosely based on an instructional book for pregnant couples, What to Expect When You’re Expecting is clearly attempting to appeal to such a broard demographic using high-profile stars like Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez and Elizabeth Banks for the female perspective and Dennis Quaid, Rodrigo Santoro and Chris Rock for the guys.
Based in Atlanta, Georgia, What to Expect When You’re Expecting follows aspiring singer and control freak Jules (Diaz), recently fired and looking to adopt Holly (Lopez), IVF treatment user Wendy (Banks) and a host of other couples to highlight the pitfalls and problems associated with pregnancy. As always in ensemble films, these strands are loosely linked together through a host of implausible ˜stories.’
It’s not that What to Expect When You’re Expecting is a neat film badly executed, it’s a truly pathetic idea executed atrociously. I’d like to have been in the script-writers meeting when they were coming up with the ˜jokes’ that are littered throughout this complete mess, and ask them who they are aiming them at. Do they think that pregnant couples and newborn families have lost any sense of reality of humour? That you can just throw the lowest common denominator fart and poop gags at them and they’ll happily laugh along saying things like I know what that’s like, they’ve got it so right.
What to Expect When You’re Expecting even has an awfully brave attempt to sucker in the male demographic by showing what it’s like for the men during pregnancy. They bond together, attend meetings ˜as men’ and their stories even descend into the most ill-conceived scene of the whole film involving a golf cart chase. All this boils down to is the tired 1950s, ˜man in the waiting room smoking a cigar’ clichÃ© that propels What to Expect When You’re Expecting forward with almost no engaging characters to route for.
Spare a thought then for Anna Kendrick, whose plot-strand about unplanned pregnancy offers What to Expect When You’re Expecting’s briefest glimpse into an actual likeable character suffering through a realistic real-life issue with some level of grace and sophistication. Obviously her scenes are seemingly separate from the rest of the film until a late thrust to tie everything together brings her in line with the rest of the gaggle of idiots inflicted upon the poor unsuspecting audience. And it isn’t long before we’re back with the completely dislikeable Diaz or the unbelievably selfish Lopez.
Just as bad as it’s spiritual predecessors Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve but with even less humour, which for a comedy makes it an even bigger crime, What to Expect When You’re Expecting has Anna Kendrick to thank for saving it single-handedly from being the worst film of the year, but it gets awfully close. A terrible, terrible film that should be avoided by all, especially pregnant couples who clearly have enough to worry about without being forced to endure this atrocity.