‘Inspired’ (the use of this term must not be inferred as carrying any weight of vision) by the bestselling book of the same name, Kirk Jones’ What to Expect When You’re Expecting (2012) is another contribution to the tiring corpus of self-help-come-slapstick-comedy movies that so saturate the comedy genre of our day. Comedy filmmakers have seemingly become far to comfortable with the formula of throwing together somewhat recognisable faces from the world of Hollywood and television with an actor that has actual mass comedic appeal, all as part of an uninspired last ditch effort to make their movie funny.
The film charts the supposedly humorous impact of pregnancy on several quite different couples and how this life-changing rite of passage is one rife with comedy and hilarity. TV fitness guru Jules (Cameron Diaz) and dance show star Evan (Matthew Morrison) find that their high-octane celebrity lives don’t stand a chance against the surprise demands of pregnancy. Baby-crazy author and advocate Wendy (Elizabeth Banks) gets a taste of her own militant-mum advice when pregnancy hormones ravage her body. Photographer Holly (Jennifer Lopez) is prepared to travel the globe to adopt a child, but her husband isn’t so keen and tries to reassure himself by attending a male support group – ‘The Dudes Group’ – where new fathers get to tell it like it really is.
One red light that usually signals mediocrity in a movie like this is the lack of a decent soundtrack and/or score. In the case of this film, the choice of music may not have been paramount, but when a film lacks even one recognisable or effective piece of music to accompany it, it’s glaringly obvious that the film failed to attract adequate interest from investors who could no doubt see the sinking ship before it arrived. It may seem odd to point to the film’s music, but it’s far to reminiscent of the score for The Sims 3 and does nothing to alleviate the boredom established by the film’s story itself- it really is that irritating.
Whilst the music provides a warning to the What to Expect When You’re Expecting’s lacklustre appeal, it’s the film’s script and the performances of its cast across the board that, aside from one or two Chris Rock moments, are the real problem. Weak, unfunny and for the most part, poorly delivered lines mean that the film lacks the appropriate comedic timing necessary to make it flow and be even remotely entertaining. Sure, there is an audience for this film; it will no doubt appeal to pregnant women and mothers who can relate to its bawdy depiction of the more graphic moments in a pregnancy, but aside from that, it’s very, very flat.
What to Expect When You’re Expecting is like a poor attempt at rehashing the style of 2011 success Bridesmaids. However, what it needs is a real writer and someone with an actual sense of humour. The comedic awareness of writers like Kristen Wiig is what was missing from this film, and perhaps with a slight rewriting jig, some if its horrifically failing moments would have been a little more funny.