Director: Kirk Jones
Starring: Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Banks, Ben Falcone, Anna Kendrick, Chace Crawford
Big stars come out yet again for another ensemble romantic comedy. What to Expect When You're Expecting follows five different couples on their way to having a child and making their lives complete. Some are planned while others are by accident. Let’s take a closer look at who they all are. Wendy (Banks) and Gary (Falcone) are finally pregnant after several years of careful planning. Wendy is the kind of woman that yearns to be a mother. She is a published author of a kid’s book and runs a store devoted to expecting mothers. Gary's dad Ramsey (Dennis Quaid) is a retired race car driver who is married and expecting with his wife (Brooklyn Decker) who is younger than Gary. Jules (Diaz) is a trainer on a "Biggest Loser" type show. After she starts dating her dance partner (Matthew Morrison) from when she appeared on a "Dancing with the Stars" type show, they find out they are pregnant. Holly (Lopez) is a struggling photographer who is adopting an Ethiopian baby with her husband (Rodrigo Santoro). Last but not least, there are two Food Truck cooks (Kendrick and Crawford) who knew each other in high school and get knocked up after a one night fling. Each couple struggles through the trials and tribulations of what it means to be an expecting couple. How does it change your life, job, and relationships?
Elizabeth Banks and Ben Falcone play the couple that has tried for years to get pregnant, but it never worked until now. Banks gives another funny heartwarming performance that easily makes her the best actress in the movie. Through the emotional and physically aspects of her character’s pregnancy, she makes the role realistic and believable. The story line between Anna Kendrick and Chace Crawford really worked for me as well. It takes some interesting turns that I didn’t always see coming which I found refreshing. Their story probably has the least amount of screen time, which is unfortunate as the two actors know what to do and how to play their characters without going over the top and making it a shtick. Jennifer Lopez and Cameron Diaz seem to be in the wrong roles. I think I would have believed Diaz as the struggling photographer over Lopez. On the other side, Lopez could have been the fitness host who is dating a dancer. Chris Rock has a minor role as the head of a group of dads that get together for stroller walks around the park. I’m not sure if he wrote his lines or if the movie was just naturally funnier when he was onscreen.
I feel like the audience probably knows what to expect going to a movie called What To Expect When You're Expecting. Like Love, Actually and Valentine's Day before it, we have another ensemble romantic comedy with a big cast of actors each playing smaller characters that weave together in the third act. Unfortunately this movie is more on par with Valentine’s Day than Love, Actually. The script is loosely inspired by the self-help books by Heidi Murkoff. Movies like this are tricky because they are hard to write and successfully tell all of the stories. The positive aspect of having many stories is that you can have various perspectives of mothers going in from different backgrounds and ways of having children. It can appeal to many soon-to-be moms that are in the target audience range. The negative aspect can be that there are too many story lines leaving the scenes short and choppy trying to fit them all in. I didn't care for every story line. I would rather have had two or three different couples written more fully then five couples loosely thrown together. The middle of the movie seems to go astray at times, but the ending really brings it all home. I found myself really caring about the characters more than I expected to throughout the movie. There are some really tender and sweet moments to cherish.
RATING: ** 1/2 (2.5 out of 5 stars)