When one film becomes an unfortunate runaway success (Movie Review: Valentine’s Day (2010)), it’s inevitable that more will follow. While so far, only New Year’s Eve has come about from Gary Marshall & Company, it appears that some other writers have decided that they make for a good template. Take a bunch of celebrities, throw them into intertwining storylines, drown the audience in a wallowing of the easiest jokes imaginable, and voilà! While the website funnyordie managed to come up with the be-all end-all of parodies, Hollywood looks to cash in on this new formula with the inexplicable adaptation of Heidi Murkoff’s bestselling What to Expect When You’re Expecting.
Starting off with the introduction of Jules (Cameron Diaz) and Evan (Matthew Morrison) on a celebrity dance show, Jules of course mentions she doesn’t feel well before their routine, which of course leads to her throwing up in their first-place trophy. Holly (Jennifer Lopez) and Alex (Rodrigo Santoro) can’t have a child of their own, which is okay with Alex, but Holly is pushing for them to adopt. Wendy (Elizabeth Banks) and Gary (Ben Falcone) have decided to give up trying after two years, only to finally conceive the same time as Gary’s father, Ramsey (Dennis Quaid) and Skyler (Brooklyn Decker) announce they’re expecting as well. Meanwhile, Rosie (Anna Kendrick) and Marco (Chace Crawford), meet-cute five years after he stood her up at their high school prom and wind up knocking boots on the hood of Wendy and Gary’s car, causing even them to conceive.
The rest of the movie consists of obligatory scenes and montages as the runtime crawls along to their due dates and the film turns into a pseudo-Lord of the Rings as it just piles on one false ending after another. While at first I didn’t have too low of expectations, seeing how the film came from a reasonable director, Kirk Jones (Waking Ned Divine), and proven screenwriters, Shauna Cross (Whip It) and Heather Hach (Freaky Friday), everything that could go wrong, does. It makes you wonder just how much improvisation may have happened on the set of Whip It, or if all of the fun behind Freaky Friday really came solely from Leslie Dixon’s side of the page.
Either way, the cast is directed to overact every chance they get; and while I know the film is a comedy, there’s more truth behind the experience in Knocked Up and emotional impact to birthing in the opening scene of J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek. The saving grace (if you can call it that) winds up being a group of dads who meet up at a park for walkabouts featuring Chris Rock, Rob Huebel, Thomas Lennon, Amir Talai, and Joe Manganiello whom they live vicariously through as he’s single and always off on some adventure featuring skinny chicks with huge racks. If the film had simply been these scenes, it not only would have been spectacularly shorter, but way funnier as well.
My biggest fear now is that the film will make enough money to warrant an even more unnecessary sequel than this film is. It doesn’t help that the source book is part of a series. Or that it will spawn a whole new series of films based on self-help books bringing us next something like what my wife mentioned, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. But, of course, if this happens, maybe I can at least look forward to a story credit for granting Hollywood another abominable idea. I’m sure What to Expect When You’re Expecting is meant to be released this weekend as counterprogramming to The Avengers, but where that film was good fun for everyone, this film is no fun for anyone.
Photos courtesy Lionsgate