Film Review: What to Expect When You’re Expecting
Pregnancy may just be one of cinema’s most tired ‘get of jail free’ card, an over-milked, over-exaggerated cliché that mistakes histrionic sentimentality for life-affirming catharsis. The heinously employed word to describe childbirth that this adaptation of a self-help pregnancy guide (a far more common occurrence than you’d believe, see She’s Just Not That Into You) is ‘miracle’. Yes the ‘miracle’ that has proven that sex, indeed produces offspring and has ballooned Earth’s human population to over seven billion. The word here isn’t so much ‘miracle’ as it is ‘duh’.
For what passes as material here for what it’s worth, isn’t worth a damn. Thankfully, the film’s purile moments (vomit, pee, breastmilk but curiously no poopie) and tired familial antics are instantly forgettable but not nearly as forgettable as the perplexing editing. Entire scenes either happen for no reason or are cut short before anything of any narrative significance can occur. As barely half of these relationships connect to each other legitimately they have no impact on each other, as a result there isn’t any point in this being comprised of intersecting narratives. Which explains the shambolic transitions, which reduces the film to a montage of topical sketches congealing around the idea of childbearing.
During the labour of its 110 minute lifespan, the five interconnecting couples we are forced endure the company of are an insipid and at times moronic bunch. Pulling off increasingly selfish, needy and unlikeable actions as each minute is bled dry from us. One particular character (following a miscarriage that the screenplay un-mercilessly shoehorns in for lazy tear tugging) leaves her boyfriend in the rain and heads inside with her hammered BFF to have shots (straight out of the hospital even, wait this is based on a self help manual!?) whilst dumping the schmuck on the pretence that ‘they never went on a date together’. Despite living together and having to endure his snivelling support and affections. The tool.
Every single joke falls flat because it’s already been flagged up in advance or it assumes you are as gormless as it is. For something like this to attempt to create farce from everyday trivialities and to fail as miserably as this is bewildering. Pregnancy and comedy classically have only been great bedfellows when the subject is given the bittersweet or sour treatment (Juno and Knocked Up being examples), only then does it earn your sentiment. All sweet naturally equals sickening and the sheer boredom experienced here only compliments the rancid aftertaste with a fart.