What to Expect is a graduate of the post-2010 Garry Marshall School of Filmmaking: Why tell a small, affecting story when you can tell a bloated, haphazard one with ten or more Hollywood superstars? Having as much warmth and charm as the 1984 non-fiction advice guide it was "adapted" from, this film offers an endless supply of bodily function and epidural references. And when is that not funny? Well, now.
The five couples in the film represent each of the fingers on my hand that I used to smack my forehead with during the seemingly nine-month long movie. There's Brooklyn Decker and Dennis Quaid, who get pregnant without trying, while Quaid's son Ben Falcone and his wife Elizabeth Banks had been trying and finally had succeeded. Cameron Diaz and her TV star boyfriend Matthew Morrison end up having "an accident," as do Anna Kendrick and Chase Crawford. Jennifer Lopez and Rodrigo Santoro are adopting, despite his reservations. More than half of these couples are gross human beings who made me question the logic in demanding 16 year-olds get a license to drive, while no one certifies you worthy of having a child.
Just to be edgy and unique (can you feel me rolling my eyes?), there's a group of dads (creatively named The Dudes) who push their strollers while trying to appear as gangsta as possible. They have the real scoop on fatherhood, and accidentally hit their kids in the head with beer cans. With Chris Rock as their leader, they're supposed to be relatable to men who got dragged into the theater, but even Rock's monologues are lacking. It's representative of the problem with the entire film--it's not devoid of laughs, but it feels more tired than parents of a newborn.
Elizabeth Banks is the saving grace here. Her character Wendy wants a baby so badly, and has such reverence for life, that it's a triumph when she can finally have one of her own. Unfortunately for her, the miracle of life turns out to be a big bummer physically, and Banks' comedy chops and honesty make this relatable and endearing. Her storyline is the one that will have mothers laughing and cheering. The rest of them? Not so much. They just scrape the surface of relationships, emasculating men, hormones, and bureaucratic red tape. This movie undoes what Bridesmaids did last year to get men into the theater for a "chick flick." Drag a guy to this one and he'll never forgive you.