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Movie Review: “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting

Theatrical Release: 5/18/2012

Theatrical Release: 5/18/2012

Synopsis

Wendy (Elizabeth Banks) and Gary Cooper (Ben Falcone) have been trying to get pregnant for awhile, and it has finally happened for them. They are overjoyed at the news, but they become frustrated when they learn that Gary’s father Ramsey (Dennis Quaid) has gotten his much younger wife Skyler (Brooklyn Decker) pregnant as well, and the two were not even trying. Gary does not really get along with his father. His father is rich, and he always cared more about money and his NASCAR career than he did his own son. Gary has always felt very competitive toward his father, and this pregnancy news will surely add to that tension.

Meanwhile, Holly (Jennifer Lopez) and her husband Alex (Rodrigo Santoro) have been trying to get pregnant for awhile and have now decided to adopt. Celebrity fitness expert Jules (Cameron Diaz) and her dancing partner Evan (Matthew Morrison) have also gotten pregnant, despite just having had an affair. Young food truck owners Rosie (Anna Kendrick) and Marco (Chace Crawford) have gotten pregnant as well, despite not feeling ready for this at all, and after only hooking up one time. All of these women are expecting, with various perspectives on pregnancy and at varying points in their relationships with the fathers.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then added or subtracted based on each Pro and Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points, ranging from 0-10, to convey how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

The Dad Group (+5pts)

Rosie & Marco (-3pts)

The Coopers (+4pts)

Predictable (-6pts)

Rebel Wilson (+2pts)

Disconnected & Crowded (-5pts)

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Pro: The Dad Group (+5pts)

Before this group first popped up on screen, this movie felt very typical. I will get into that later, but one fresh idea I thought the filmmakers had was with the introduction of the Dad group. Holly knew Alex was still coming around on the idea of being a parent, so she recommended that he join a dad group. Then we met that group, and I was surprised by how well they came across comedically. As soon as they walked around the corner with their strollers, acting like gangsters, and with that music playing, I was sold on this group.

It was the filmmakers way of poking fun at how bad some moms think dads are at parenting. These dads went on regular walks as a group, and it was a safe space for them to vent about their lives and their insecurities, all while parenting how they wanted, in a judgement free zone. The group consisted of Chris Rock, Thomas Lennon, Rob Huebel, Amir Talai, and occasionally Joe Manganiello, and they were an absolute blast. In an otherwise typical movie, the dad group was a refreshingly entertaining group of characters, and they made for most of this movie's funnier moments.

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Con: Rosie & Marco (-3pts)

The storyline between these two was one of the more predictable storylines in this movie. Rosie and Marco ran competitive food trucks, they had some chemistry with one another, and they ultimately hooked up with one another. They were both underdeveloped characters, with a predictable relationship and generic dialogue. Their pregnancy storyline went in a very different route than any of the others, and it would have been interesting to see how they dealt with that, but the filmmakers forced tension into their relationship and sort of just avoided the subject all together. In other words, the filmmakers had an uninteresting relationship that they threw an interesting wrench into, which got my hopes up. However, as soon as their storyline started getting interesting, the filmmakers separated the two and told their story in the least interesting way possible. In a movie that felt crowded with storylines, this one was the one that I thought was handled the worst, and I think it should have been taken out of the movie entirely.

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Pro: The Coopers (+4pts)

I thought the Coopers had an entertaining dynamic. There was Wendy and Gary Cooper, who had been trying to get pregnant for awhile. Then there was Ramsey and Skyler Cooper, who got pregnant without even trying. This made for some entertaining moments, which was only amplified by Skyler's comically easy pregnancy, which was understandably infuriating to Wendy in the most entertaining way. Then there were Gary's issues with his father, which added plenty of tension and comedy in their own right.

Were their stories dramatically compelling or fascinatingly unpredictable? No, of course not. They were all typical characters for a movie like this one, and it was easy to see what the filmmakers were doing with their story. Nonetheless, this was a decently entertaining group of characters, who helped make this movie watchable.

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Con: Predictable (-6pts)

This movie was incredibly predictable. I did not know how each bump in the road would go for each storyline, but the general direction of each storyline was pretty obvious. The few times that the filmmakers actually had the opportunity to subvert expectations—with Rosie and Marco's pregnancy, then with Wendy's at the end—and deliver impactful stories, the filmmakers ended up blowing it, and taking the safe route. I knew how Holly and Alex's story would go, I knew how Jules and Evan's story would go, I knew how the Coopers' stories would go, and I knew how Rosie and Marco's story would go. It was as if the filmmakers knew exactly what you would expect from each of these stories, and then they decided to deliver the exact same thing, and it made this movie kind of boring.

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Pro: Rebel Wilson (+2pts)

Rebel Wilson was easily one of the funnier characters in this movie. Almost every line out of her character's mouth was amusing, and she actually had me laughing a number of times throughout the movie. She managed to do this, while also not being on screen very often. Her character was Wendy's assistant, and she was the oddball that you would expect one of Rebel Wilson's characters to be. She said awkward things, and got herself into awkward scenarios, and it was entertaining. If you have seen Rebel Wilson in literally anything else, then nothing about this role will surprise you. Nonetheless, I think this actress' comedic style is funny, and I thought it worked well for this movie, even with the limited screen-time that her character received.

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Con: Disconnected & Crowded (-5pts)

One issue that I had with the movie was that each storyline felt disconnected. In other words, we were just watching a completely random selection of women who all happened to become pregnant at the same time. Only a couple ever interacted with one another, and I thought it made this movie feel pointless. There was no overall plot connecting these storylines, and there was no common thing that they all shared. It just ended up feeling like a random story about a bunch of random pregnant women, and I thought this movie would have been a lot more engaging if there was something connecting these women and scenes in which they were all together.

Another issue that I had with the movie was that there were simply too many storylines. The filmmakers could have had fewer storylines, which would have let them dive deeper into the fewer characters' stories. Instead, the filmmakers chose to throw in a bunch of storylines and stay in the shallow end of each of them. There were just too many characters crammed into this story, and I thought that the movie would have been better served by cutting a few of these characters out entirely, and exploring more of the emotional weight that went into the stories of the remaining ones.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

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Grade: C- (72pts)

I went into this movie expecting a very predictable story about a bunch of pregnant women, and that was pretty much exactly what this was. The cast was decent, but their characters' stories were so typical that the movie became pretty boring. This was not helped by the crowded group of characters, which prevented filmmakers from exploring any of these characters' stories with any real depth. This combination was then made even worse by making this story about several separate characters, with no connecting story to bring them all together.

The result was a movie about a random group of women, and their varying pregnancy experiences. The dad group was funny, but it did not get enough screen time to save this movie. Rebel Wilson was also funny, but got even less screen time than the dad group. The storyline that worked the best was the Coopers' storyline, as it had a father and son at odds with one another, and it had two pregnant women with wildly different pregnancy experiences. Skyler's easy pregnancy was understandably frustrating for Wendy, and it provided some entertaining comedic moments. I honestly think if the filmmakers had cut all the other storylines out of the movie and just focused on the Coopers, then this would have been a much better movie, but that was not what the filmmakers did.