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WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE EXPECTING
DIRECTOR: Kirk Jones
CAST: Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Chace Crawford, Dennis Quaid, Matthew Morrison and Chris Rock
RUNNING TIME: 109min
WHEN a best-seller is turned into a movie à la Eat Pray Love, directors are guaranteed an audience. Such is the case with the cinematic adaptation of Heidi Murkoff’s What to Expect When You’re Expecting, which is a New York Times perennial best-seller.
Naturally, the movie would have to adhere to a different set of rules to lure viewers to the cinema – whereas the book offers more insight, quirky moments and profound knowledge about the birthing process from conception to delivery.
Director Kirk Jones struck gold in bagging the stellar cast of Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Chace Crawford, Matthew Morrison, Dennis Quaid, Chris Rock and Elizabeth Banks, to mention but a few. But that is about the only compliment he bags from me – and I am a shamelessly broody person.
Let’s talk about the plot.
We have five couples at the heart of the story. Their stories, while intertwined, vary and cover different spectrums of mother- hood and pregnancy.
Jules Baxter (Diaz), a fitness guru and winner of a celebrity dance show, publicly learns she is pregnant with Evan (Morrison), her sexy dance partner’s baby. A control freak who wants to be the alpha partner in the relationship, she has a few lessons to learn during her pregnancy.
Meanwhile, Wendy Cooper (Banks), the owner of The Breast Choice Boutique, learns, after years of trying, that she is pregnant. Her husband, Gary (Ben Falcone), can’t wait to tell his well-heeled celebrity father Ramsay (Quaid) – only to then learn that his uber-sexy stepmom, Skyler (Brooklyn Decker) is also pregnant… with twins.
That Gary and Ramsay have always had a strained relationship, underlined by an ugly competitive streak that has seen Gary harness low self-esteem for years, is only exacerbated by more jealousy and tension creeping in.
Unlike her role in The Back-Up Plan, which unfailingly surfaces to some degree, Lopez’s character, Holly, is a photographer desperate to adopt after numerous failed in-vitro fertilisation treatments. Her musician husband, Alex (Rodrigo Santoro), has misgivings about going this Angelina Jolie-route, though.
And then there is Marco (Crawford) and his old flame Rosie (Anna Kendrick), who rekindle the romance only to be faced with the unexpected reality of parenthood. But it is short-lived.
Although Jones tries to capture the full spectrum of pregnancy scenarios – some having an effortless one and others, like Holly, being subjected to raging emotions, farts and haemorrhoids, or facing immense disappointment – their stories, pregnant with disbelief, lack empathy.
Don’t even get me started on that daddy group in the park and their hip hop façade looking all Terminator-like, sleekly armed with baby bottles and nappies. Really?
Looking at movies such as The Back-Up Plan and Juno, which resonated strongly with their audiences who bought into the freshness and realism of the plight of their protagonists, I can’t say What to Expect When You’re Expecting is remotely close to achieving the same result.
Honestly, the scenarios are so unbelievably contrived that, despite the powerhouse cast, they reduce it to a superficial disappointment, with an ending so shitty it needs a super-absorbent nappy – not an audience!
If you liked… The Back-up Plan, Juno, Going the Distance or When in Rome… you might enjoy this.