Since many of you who visit the movies4kids.co.uk website and this accompanying blog are parents, I thought you may be interested in a review of this week’s new cinema release – seemingly aimed at all of us with kids – What To Expect When You’re Expecting.
If the title seems familiar, it’s because this comedy takes its title from the parenting bible of the same name, that must-have for every soon-to-be mum and dad who fret over swollen ankles, morning sickness and all the other lovely side effects that come with pregnancy. Like the recent New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day, it’s one of those movies that follows a handful of different characters over a short period of time who may have a connection to each other that’s revealed before the end. Personally, I blame Richard Curtis for all this, as his not-bad 2003 movie Love Actually has become some sort of template for these high concept, let’s-shove-loads-of-well-known-actors-into-one-movie comedies, none of which are a patch on the film they’re trying to emulate.
There are two main problems with this one – it’s not funny, and most of the characters experiencing pregnancy aren’t very likeable. There’s fitness guru Cameron Diaz, who is such an obnoxious cow you can’t imagine Glee’s Matthew Morrison would want to be in the same room as her, let alone impregnate her; macho man Dennis Quaid and his young trophy wife (Brooklyn Decker) who gets pregnant at the same time as Quaid’s son (Ben Falcone) and his wife Elizabeth Banks, who have been trying for years; and Jennifer Lopez, who doesn’t tell her husband she’s lost her job just as they are trying to adopt a baby from Africa.
In fact, the only likeable pair are Chace Crawford and Anna Kendrick as two rival takeaway chefs whose one night stand leads to a heartbeat on the ultrasound, but since their story is played as a meaningful one amongst all the other stereotypical comedic situations, it doesn’t feel like it belongs.
It’s all a bit of a mess, packed with clichés (Banks suffering from every possible embarrassing pregnancy symptom, such as wind and a weak bladder, usually all at once) that will only amuse new parents ruefully remembering their own red-faced pregnancy experiences. Even the men’s group (led by Chris Rock) of worn-out dads that Lopez’s husband joins in the park to learn about what he’s letting himself in for isn’t that funny – although women in the audience will at least get to enjoy an appearance by Joe Manganiello (best known as True Blood’s Alcide) as the extremely buff ladies man all the dads look up to.
All in all, What To Expect… isn’t awful, it just isn’t very good. And the audience it’s aimed at are probably too tired to head out to the cinema to see it anyway…
Here’s the trailer, and scroll down a bit further for a photo of Mr Manganiello, possibly the only reason to go and see the movie!