If only “What to Expect When You're Expecting” had focused on the dads' group, and didn't just drop in on them a handful of times, we might have been onto something here.
Chris Rock, Thomas Lennon and Rob Huebel are among the dudes who meet regularly to push their kids in tricked-out strollers, tote them in high-end carriers and talk guy stuff in a confidential setting away from the wives. Their no-nonsense banter, and their unabashed worship of the buff, shirtless jogger who frequents their Atlanta park, liven up what is a rather predictable and cliched depiction of pregnancy.
A good-looking cast of popular actors can only do so much with material that's superficial and sitcommy. Director Kirk Jones' film is “inspired by” the Heidi Murkoff advice book of the same name, one that every single pregnant woman on the planet surely has read since its initial publication in 1985. But similar to 2009's “He's Just Not That Into You,” the script from Shauna Cross and Heather Hach merely uses a familiar nonfiction title as a leaping-off point to explore various intertwined relationships, ostensibly for hilarious comic effect.
There are some laughs here and there and a few recognizable moments of honesty. Elizabeth Banks' character begins to touch on something relatable; an author and owner of a breast-feeding boutique, she finds her militant stances hard to maintain once she becomes pregnant herself. As she's about to give a big speech, she opens her mouth and dares to share her third-trimester misery with a huge, gawking crowd. Then again, this is one of those embarrassing moments of vulnerability that always seem to take place in front of a huge, gawking crowd in romantic comedies.
More often, we get the kind of contrived, shrieky wackiness that breaks out when all the pregnant women whose stories we've been following just happen to give birth at the same hospital on the same night. Being crowd-pleasing was obviously more important that being truthful.
Jones bops around between all these stories at a steady pace and only finds real energy when he comes back to the dads' group, which Alex joins in preparation for fatherhood. Within seconds of watching Rock riff on what it's really like to be a parent, you get a glimpse of how good this movie might have been. Instead, you should probably keep your expectations in check.
— Christy Lemire, The Associated Press
‘What to Expect When You're Expecting'
Starring: Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Matthew Morrison, Elizabeth Banks Anna Kendrick, Brooklyn Decker, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Ben Falcone, Dennis Quaid, Chris Rock. (Crude and sexual content, thematic elements and language)