Pity any man who gets dragged to see the Hollywood candy-coated treatment of the non-fiction book "What to Expect When You're Expecting." Men in the movie cling to their last shred of masculinity by idol worshipping a hunky stud who can do one-arm pull ups. The actors show their sensitive sides by flashing more puppy dog eyes than a Labrador. For all you women out there who believe this is a great film for a date night, be prepared for payback during basketball playoffs if you make your man suffer through this insufferable film.
What's been called the definitive how-to for expectant parents since it was first published in 1985, the movie version of "What To Expect When You're Expecting" takes the concept of the book and turns it into mush.
The ensemble romantic comedy tells the story of five couples, who run the gamut of experiences from unexpected pregnancy to the ups and downs of adoption. Here's the rundown. Jules and Evan are played by Cameron Diaz and Matthew ("Glee") Morrison. She's a celebrity personal trainer who hosts a "Biggest Loser" type show and he's a dancer on "Celebrity Dance Factor," a takeoff of, you guessed it, "Dancing With the Stars." Their professional lives get turned upside down when they discover she's having a baby.
Wendy, played by Elizabeth Banks, and husband, Gary (Ben Falcone), are struggling with fertility issues. The humor in this story is supposed to come from the irony of Wendy's small Atlanta store, The Breast Choice. She's a lactation expert. Did I not find the nursing jokes amusing because I was biased by my reaction over the recent controversial Time magazine cover of the breastfeeding mom?
Yet, Wendy and Gary's story is one of the most entertaining of all since the storyline also introduces Dennis Quaid as Gary's NASCAR superstar dad, Ramsey, and his much younger wife, Skyler (model Brooklyn Decker) who are expecting twins. Quaid's portrayal of Ramsey as Gary's fiercely competitive father is one of the few saving graces of the movie. Bring on "What to Expecting When You're Expecting II" and just feature the bickering father and son team, who own most of the laughs here.
To add some diversity to the group, filmmakers toss in Jennifer Lopez and Rodrigo Santoro as Holly and Alex, a Hispanic couple who have had no success in having children of their own, so they've turned to adoption. They also don't have much money, either. Their quest has landed them a baby from Ethiopia. One of the few very real and touching moments in the movie comes when the pair travels to Africa to meet their new baby.
The most non believable couple to round out the group are twentysomethings Rosie and Marco, played by Anna Kendricks and Chace Crawford, singletons who own competing food trucks. They find themselves in a partnered predicament after a few beers and a one-night stand. Their pairing seems as unlikely as their constant stream of customers at their food trucks each day.
To throw even more characters into this hodgepodge lodge, the filmmakers introduce The Dudes Group, a quasi support group (again here's where they can also add diversity since their main cast seems severely lacking in that department) who take their kids to the park each week to swap horror stories about minivans and diaper changing tables. They are mixed-bag foursome featuring Chris Rock as Vic, Amir Talai as Patel, Rob Huebel as Gabe and Thomas Lennon as the most wife-whipped of the group, Craig. No gay couples struggling with pre-parenthood issues? Bring on "What To Expect When You're Expecting II."
While the real "What To Expect When You're Expecting" is a veritable wealth of knowledge in the pregnancy department, the movie version finds a way to include every cliché that you'd expect about expecting including doctors prescribing bedrest, jokes ad nauseam about bodily functions, and, yes, those constant camera zoom ins of men making puppy dog eyes.
Don't expect much from "What To Expect." In fact, the book version is more entertaining.