Now Playing: Lowered Expectations

I enjoy walking into screenings without knowing anything about the movie I’m about to see, but when I walked into ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’ and discovered which actors star in this ensemble comedy, I wished that I’d stayed home to watch ‘The Grey‘ instead. It’s not usually fair to judge a movie by its cast, but in this case, it’s absolutely accurate and probably worse than you’d imagine.

Although it’s not, ‘What to Expect’ feels like it was made by the ‘Valentine’s Day‘/’New Year’s Eve‘ crew. It features a large cast of characters who are disconnected from one another until the very end. Even then, their ties are thin. What the movie tries to do and what it actually does are two different things. It attempts to show all aspects and contingencies of first-time parenthood, but it really crams in every possible cliché in such a contrived fashion that it’s unrealistic. From a father of two, trust me – it couldn’t be any farther from reality.

The muddled story includes multiple instances of pregnant women peeing their pants, rubbing their achy breasts, waddling, vomiting and complaining about all sorts of discomfort. (The latter just might be the only realistic part – wink, wink). The preggo characters range from the extremely sick and uncomfortable one (Elizabeth Banks), the one who turns into a mega-bitch (Cameron Diaz), the one who can’t have kids and has to adopt (Jennifer Lopez), the hot one who looks and feels even better with pregnancy (Brooklyn Decker), and even the one who miscarries (Anna Kendrick) and watches her relationship fall apart afterward. Through their various forms of labor/child acquisition – emergency Cesarian section, easy natural birth, F-bombing dropping angry mommy and Ethiopian adoption – we see how all of the characters are finally connected.

There’s only one aspect of this movie that actually warrants laughs: the group of dads who take their kids walking through the park each week. Consisting of Chris Rock, Thomas Lennon and Rob Huebel, the scenes with these guys are so funny that they deserve a movie of their own, not a second-fiddle part behind this atrocious chick flick.

It’s been a while since a chick flick stormed the box office, so I imagine that the mothers of America will flock in droves to ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’ this weekend, even if it is being released one week too late. (Mother’s Day weekend would have been more appropriate.) They might enjoy this celebration of motherhood, but the guys who gets dragged to it will hate every moment that doesn’t feature the walking group. You’ve been warned.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

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