"No Surprises in "What to Expect When You're Expecting""
WKYC Contributor Karina Mitchell
Based on the New York times bestseller that has become the definitive self-help bible for millions of pregnant women all across the world, "What to Expect When You're Expecting" releases on the big screen this weekend.
The vibe of this upbeat comedy feels more manufactured than organic, but an all star cast, including Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Banks, Matthew Morrison and Chris Rock does get this baby going. Following a now familiar trend of taking a them and filling it with as many celebrities as a production can muster, "What to Expect" follows the trials and tribulations of 5 couples, who learn they are going to be parents.
TV fitness guru Jules (Cameron Diaz) and dance show star Evan (Matthew Morrison) discover that about the only thing they have in common is their steps on the dance floor. High energy Jules is a type "A" personality and thinks she may be better off "going it alone" than having to compromise with her partner. Meanwhile, J.Lo is a photographer, who is infertile, but desperate for a child. She and her husband (who isn't sure he's ready to be a father just yet) receive word their adoption of a child from Ethiopia has come through much quicker than anticipated. Also in the mix are Anna Kendrick and Chace Crawford, who play a couple of young entrepreneurs - street food vendors - whose one night reunion after high school leads to Kendrick's character discovering she's pregnant.
And adding the element of slapstick is Dennis Quaid and trophy wife Brooklyn Decker, who are expecting twins at the same time Quaid's needy son and his baby author wife (Elizabeth Banks) are expecting their first child.
The film has an easy feel to it, nothing is overly dramatic and is about as formulaic as the stuff that comes out of the bottle. This is Kirk Jones' fourth foray as a director ("Nanny McPhee," "Everybody's Fine") and together with some members of the cast, is able to come up with some memorable moments, despite a cookie-cutter screenplay by Shauna Cross and Heather Hach. Kendrick's character is particularly substantive as a young woman, who despite becoming pregnant unintentionally, is saddened by a miscarriage she suffers. One wishes Jones explored her and Crawford's characters more thoroughly. J.Lo, too turns in a decent performance. Elizabeth Banks, too, turned in a fine performance, making the most of what she had to work with. Hard to watch, however, was Diaz paired with Morrison. The two showed no signs of any kind of on screen chemistry and left their characters looking and feeling hollow.
Helping move things along and inject just the right dose of humor is Chris Rock, the ringleader of a group of persecuted fathers, who come together in the park, baby strollers and bottles in tote, to lament over the tribulations of fatherhood and being henpecked by their alpha spouses.
No mood swings for audiences in this film, just lighthearted comedy without the drama.
Rating : PG-13
Run time : 110 mins.