A very long time ago, there was a TV program called Love, American Style. It was one of those anthology shows that had different vignettes on diverse aspects of love. Some were funny, some were tender, and they all seemed to tie up all loose ends before the commercial break. They really never showed what happened after the connection. What to Expect when You’re Expecting answers that question and tries to do it in a very comic fashion.
This film could have been pitched as the answer to Valentine’s Day, the movie from a few seasons back that had a sequel with New Year’s Eve. The film is below par with those two cinematic offering.
The main part of the story concerns a fitness guru Jules (Cameron Diaz) who is on a celebrity dancing show. She has been fooling around with her dance partner Evan (Matthew Morrison). The two having an affair and baby makes all the gossip rags.
There is a married couple who cannot conceive and plan to adopt. The wife Holly (Jennifer Lopez) sends the husband to visit a group of guys who meet weekly to walk their kids around the park. She is trying to get him ready for impending fatherhood.
The guys have a ‘no judgment’ rule within the group. All of them seem a bit lost in the fathering department. The majority of the laughs come from them and a better film would have just concentrated on their exploits.
Another couple has been trying to conceive. The wife Wendy (Elizabeth Banks) owns a baby store and her husband Gary (Ben Falcone) is a dentist who was once on Jules’ fitness show. Gary has a race car racing legend father Ramsey (Dennis Quaid) who has a severe fascination with Jimmy Buffett. Ramsey married to a trophy wife (Brooklyn Decker) who is younger than Gary. They too are going to be parents.
Of all the stories in the film, the more honest one concerned Rosie, the unplanned pregnancy. Young Anna Kendrick is easily the best actress on the screen and she shows that she has the chops the more senior performers would kill to possess. She is the only one who brings true heartbreak and emotions to the fluff that is Expecting. There are tangents that connect all the couples, and the writers Shauna Cross and Heather Hach weave a tapestry of barely logical instances to make them all fit into a collective whole. One has to commend them on taking a non-fiction book and turning it into any kind of a workable screenplay.
Kirk Jones is a commercial director who has made the leap into features. He was behind the brilliant Waking Ned Devine. He was also on the helm for Nanny McPhee and Everybody’s Fine, both of which had some good parts but were not a great complete motion picture experience. Here he tries to be Garry Marshall (a guy who got his big break on Love, American Style) and shows that making a big picture film is not as easy as it appears to be.
While it has a few good moments of comedy here and there, the collective whole just doesn’t ring true. What to Expect When You’re Expecting is nothing special for anyone involved and, unlike a baby, won’t be around in nine months.