Friday, May 18, 2012
LITTLE ROCK Watching What to Expect When You’re Expecting is like attending a baby shower where some guests give the mother gifts she didn’t want or need.
Director Kirk Jones (Waking Ned Devine) and screenwriters Shauna Cross and Heather Hatch seem to think that ensemble stories work best if you cram in as many interrelated characters and situations as possible with little regard for wit, insight or heart.
By the law of averages, some gags work, and some of Cross and Hatch’s observations about childbirth seem valid (as a man, I’ll have to take their word). Unfortunately, they force viewers to throw out gallons of bath water before getting to the baby.
The all-star cast is occasionally problematic because many of the characters, while played by recognizable performers, aren’t that interesting. Elizabeth Banks manages to get the most out of playing Wendy Cooper, a maternity shop owner and self-help author who decides that the countless side effects of pregnancy aren’t for her. Jennifer Lopez and Rodrigo Santoro, however, leave little impression as a couple falling apart over adopting a child from Ethiopia.
Beth’s husband, Gary (Ben Falcone), finds himself in a rivalry with his wealthy but immature father (Dennis Quaid), whose trophy wife (Brooklyn Decker) is due to have twins. There’s also a fussy fitness trainer modeled after Jillian Michaels (played by Cameron Diaz) who tries to continue with her hectic schedule even though she and her reality show dancing partner (Michael Morrison) have just conceived.
Oh, and two rival food venders (Anna Kendrick and Chace Crawford), who can barely stand each other, have to make a decision when one leaves a bun in the other’s oven.
Keeping track of all of these stories takes more effort than it should, but that may be because only some of them are all that funny, and most don’t fit well together. There’s a support group of dads that seems to have been grafted from another film altogether. At least it’s an excuse for Chris Rock to sling some choice zingers. It’s more fun to hear him yell than it is to hear Lopez or Santoro whine.
What to Expect When You’re Expecting 70 Cast: Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Banks, Chace Crawford, Brooklyn Decker, Ben Falcone, Anna Kendrick, Matthew Morrison, Dennis Quaid, Chris Rock, Rodrigo Santoro, Joe Manganiello, Rob Huebel, Thomas Lennon Director: Kirk Jones Rating: PG-13, for crude and sexual content, thematic elements and language Running time: 110 minutes
MovieStyle, Pages 33 on 05/18/2012