What to Expect When You’re Expecting (2012), the new multi-tiered, ensemble comedy from British director Kirk Jones, starring – amongst others – Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Dennis Quaid, Chris Rock and Cheryl Cole (!?), is good fun as long as you’re not expecting too much. The film follows five couples as they experience the ups and downs of pregnancy and childbirth, in the process learning about themselves whilst dealing with the unforgettable experience of bringing a new life into the world.
What to Expect When You’re Expecting was never going to win any awards, but as an example of how to include a multitude of Hollywood A-Listers (and Cheryl Cole) in the same film whilst allowing them all equal prominence, it is a competent and smart piece of filmmaking. Like the recent – and abysmal – New Year’s Eve (2011), the story, based on the bestselling self-help books by Heidi Murkoff, manages to bring the various stars together on an equal footing, no mean feat when working with so many volatile egos.
The film’s defining quality – after its deft intertwining of the various plots and subplots – is its slickness. Jones never allows the pace to slacken, with one gag-filled scene following quickly from the last. Though much of the humour is derived from instances built around morning sickness (the opening scene involving the finale of a dance competition is toe-curlingly funny) and men’s frequent inability to deal with impending parenthood, the proceedings move so quickly that you are allowed little time to dwell on what could easily have been a series of crass scenarios. This may not be on the same level as Jones’ previous dryly humorous hit Waking Ned (1998), but that’s the price you pay if Hollywood offers you a shot at the mainstream.
You’ll undoubtedly enjoy Jones’ What to Expect When You’re Expecting far more if you accept it for what it is – a popcorn movie: warm, fluffy and immediately forgettable.