What to expect when you’re expecting is a passably entertaining rom-com that you might like if you give it a chance. While many will groan at the unoriginal plot, one can’t help but laugh at the movie, if not with it. It has cornball acting, zero characterization and many contrivances, but in the end it's merely a romantic comedy. You see it, you have a chuckle and you move on. And of course you can hardly go wrong with Anna Kendrick and Elizabeth Banks in the same movie.
The film is very loosely based on the self-help book of the same name, in fact so loosely that the film just takes the subject matter (pregnancy) and whirls it around a colossal gang of actors with intersecting stories for a Valentines Day-esque ensemble comedy. Screenwriters Shauna Cross and Heather Hach and director Kirk Jones introduce us to a fitness freak (Cameron Diaz) who discovers she’s pregnant on live TV, a Baby store owner (Elizabeth Banks) and her husband Gary (Ben Falcone) who get pregnant after years of futile efforts, a photographer (Jennifer Lopez) who manages to convince her husband (Rodrigo Santoro) to adopt, and a chef (Anna Kendrick) who gets knocked up after a one night stand with another chef (Chace Crawford). Whether the filmmakers wanted to portray the vast boundaries of pregnancy scenarios or to get a bunch of attractive known actors together for a box office bonanza remains moot.
What we do get are a series of pregnancy clichés seen in dozens and dozens of films and TV shows, but it all becomes a breeze to watch thanks to the nifty editing and the mildly likable characters, unlike the case in ensembles like New Year’s Eve. This is no Father of the Bride, but there are a couple of funny plot points, one of which involves a Fight Club-like Daddy Support Group featuring Chris Rock who leads a pack of guys with baby carriages who bestow advice on how to cope with being a father for the first time. There are no gross out or laugh out loud gags like in Bridesmaids but seeing as the target audience is expectant couples and new parents, the stories just about work. The most interesting of them all is the one with Anna Kendrick, not just because she stands as the best thing about the film but also because of the matured handling of the bittersweet story.
What to expect when you’re expecting is an unabashed chick flick that subverts your expectations if you set them really low. It’s good-natured, and enjoyably clichéd.
(First published in MiD Day)