What to Expect When You're Expecting

Directed By: Kirk Jones

Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Cameron Diaz, Matthew Morrison, Rodrigo Santoro, Elizabeth Banks, Anna Kendrick, Brooklyn Decker, Dennis Quaid, Chris Rock, Chace Crawford, and Cheryl Cole

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I read the best-selling book What to Expect When You’re Expecting and it really was a pregnancy “bible.”  So I was excited to see what the film would do with the topic of pregnancy and preparing for a child.  There are a million different comedic avenues to explore when it comes to having a baby.  Unfortunately, the film suffers from too many characters, a lack of continuity between the various storylines, and ultimately predictability.

What to Expect is the story of several different couples on the verge of parenthood.  The film opens with Jules (Cameron Diaz), a fitness guru competing on a Dancing with the Stars parody Celebrity Dance Factor.  She is paired with professional dancer Evan (Matthew Morrison) on the show.  After they win the championship, Jules immediately vomits in the coveted reality show trophy, and discovers she is pregnant with Evan’s baby.  Jules and Evan struggle with having a child after a whirlwind three month romance.

Other couples are watching Celebrity Dance Factor, including Wendy (Elizabeth Banks) and Gary (Ben Falcone).  Wendy and Gary have been trying to have a baby for over two years—which has taken a toll on the romance factor in their marriage.  Wendy decides to stop trying, let things happen naturally and let her hair down.  After a tumble in the bushes, Wendy realizes that she is pregnant.  Thrilled, they rush to visit Gary’s dad Ramsey (Dennis Quaid) to share the good news.  Much to Gary’s chagrin, ultra competitive, retired race car driver Ramsey and his hot young wife Skyler (Brooklyn Decker) announce that they are also having a baby.

Holly (Jennifer Lopez) and Alex (Rodrigo Santoro) are another couple who struggled to have a biological child.  In vitro has failed, and they have decided to adopt a child from Ethiopia.  Holly is elated, but Alex is terrified.  In order to help Alex become acclimated to the idea of fatherhood, Holly convinces him to join a dude group (Chris Rock, Rob Huebel and friends).  The dude group walks in the park every Saturday with their kids.  In the dude group, there is a man code, there is no judging, and beers combine with strollers and shenanigans.

Finally, we have Marco (Chace Crawford) and Rosie (Anna Kendrick), who I can only assume have been added to bring in the Gossip Girl/Twilight crowd because they really have no other connection to the players.  Marco and Rosie went to high school together and have flirted over the years.  They both work food trucks at a local outdoor movie theater.  One night they sleep together and Rosie ends up pregnant and the young lovers have some tough choices to make. 

There are some bright spots in What to Expect When You’re Expecting.  Elizabeth Banks and Ben Falcone are the nerdy, funny heart of this film.  Banks captures all of the mess that can come along with pregnancy—the lack of bladder control, the utter exhaustion, the hot flashes, the mood swings, and even the gas.  Falcone is frankly adorable as the supportive hubby who is desperately trying to step out of his father’s shadow and be a great father and husband.  They are the most relatable and real characters in the movie.

In addition, Davis (Joe Mangianello) is a standout for me.  Davis is a legend to the dude group.  He is single, childless and travels the world for his job and romances beauties along the way.  Mangianello is so smoking hot that all of the guys have man crushes on him because he’s the epitome of masculine freedom and cool.  I must say, I love Mangianello on True Blood, but if his shirtless display in What to Expect is any indication of what is in store for us with Magic Mike, I would like to pre-purchase my ticket now.  Mangianello has moved up on my celebrity crush list.

Sadly, every scene does not include a shirtless Joe or my favorite couple.  What to Expect suffers from the same problem that many ensemble films have.  It just throws a bunch of stories together with such a thin thread connecting them that it is hard to invest in the different characters.  Love Actually for me was one of the best ensemble romantic comedies because it was witty, humorous, heart-warming and filled with compelling characters and storylines.  Unfortunately, What to Expect was not executed with the same level of skill, and I just found myself wanting something more—in the way of both humor and substance.

I would have a cocktail or two with this one.  I wish I had a Dream Berry while I was watching instead of an Icee.