Wednesday, 23 May 2012
FILM REVIEW: WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU'RE EXPECTING
A film based on a pregnancy guide is hardly the eyebrow raiser that it should be, certainly not in this cinematic age where we've had films based on a dating guide (He's Just Not That Into You, itself spun out from one line in an episode of TV's Sex and the City), and one lame-ass blockbuster about invading aliens based on a static boardgame with nary an alien in sight (here's looking at you, Battleship).
What To Expect When You're Expecting was originally a guide for expectant first time parents written by Heidi Murkoff, and I certainly hope it was more informative and comforting than the film version is.
Directed by Kirk Jones (who made the first Nanny McPhee), and adapted by Shauna Cross and Heather Hach, What To Expect bears little if any resemblance to the actual pregnancy journey. In fact, it's almost as potent a contraceptive as We Need To Talk About Kevin; certainly the characters here -- paper thin and borderline grotesques -- leave you with the sinking feeling that the human race should perhaps be spayed.
Jules (Cameron Diaz) and Evan (Matthew Morrisson) meet on a reality dance show, and love blossoms between the celeb (Jules is the trainer/host of a weight loss program) and the male dancer with an unplanned pregnancy the result; Holly (Jennifer Lopez) and Alex (Rodrigo Santoro) want a child but, unable to conceive, look to adopting from overseas; while Wendy (Elizabeth Banks) and Gary (Ben Falcone) have tried for years to have a child, conceiving when least expected but only to have their good news gazumped by Gary's father, Ramsey (Dennis Quaid), and his young bride, Skyler (Brooklyn Decker), who announce they're having twins.
Banks' Wendy is the closest the film comes to any sense of reality, with the baby shop proprietor experiencing a pregnancy like most mothers do: sore breasts, constipation, and a lack of control of one's bladder, bowel and emotions.
Less convincing is the group of fathers who meet every Saturday to swap war stories about parenting; revealing their stuff ups and failings without fear or judgement. Led by Chris Rock's Vic, the dads act as a Greek chorus of sorts who are vaguely amusing, and more so than they are authentic. They're there only to appease the men dragged along to see What To Expect.
Adding even less value to proceedings is a miscarriage storyline involving rival food van operators, Rosie (Anna Kendrick) and Marco (Chace Crawford). They have a one night stand and obviously don't practise safe sex, as Rosie falls pregnant and the pair become a makeshift couple.
But when Rosie suffers a miscarriage, the film, after raising the idea that not all pregnancies go smoothly, moves on a quickly as possible. No time for grief -- or reality -- here, folks.
While not as painful as actual childbirth -- or even as painful as expected -- What To Expect When You're Expecting may still require the film going equivalent of an epidural to get you through it.