23 September 2012


Twelve Things about What to Expect When You're Expecting

12. You'd think my teenage brother would be happy to have a "cool" older sister who takes him to Action movies-- but I end up watching those with my friends because he's too embarrassed to be seen with me in public. In the privacy of our own home, however, he has no shame about renting Chick Flicks that he can watch with me. And no one is more surprised than I am that his latest choice was as fun as it was dumb.

(Apparently, I will forgive anything that is pro-child.)

11. I really thought I would hate it, too, after it opened with a TV show. (That's right: a movie based on a book opens with a TV show.) And not just any TV show, but one of those ironically named Reality competitions which asks the audience to vote for the winner.

It's an excruciatingly bad parody of a kind of entertainment that nobody takes seriously any longer. But awful execution aside, I totally get why it was in the screenplay. It satirises the curious fact that pregnancy, adoption, and babies in general now have their own media niches. A literal Reality star broadcasting the details of her pregnancy on live TV is just the most extreme example of the myriad of ways in which mothers have taken to modern media to share their own realities. We're all watching ourselves watching each other these days, remember? In any case, it's our version of what the Elizabethans knew as the "play within a play."

10. Now, have you noticed all the movies with big ensemble casts that we've been getting lately?

Prettier Than the Poster
(But Would Have Been Better with Baby Bumps)

What we usually have is a couple of A-listers sharing the spotlight with whomever managed to top the B-list when the casting was done, some reliable character actors, and a smattering of pretty-enough unknowns.

The good part is that it feels like one big party, and I kind of like that. =) The bad part is that making room for up to five different storylines means that none of them can have any real depth. =(

9. Cameron Diaz plays the Reality TV celebrity who is having a baby with another Reality TV celebrity. But there's a bit more to them than the satire. They're the ones who cross swords over everything to do with their baby, from his name to whether or not he should be circumcised. In one scene, as they are arguing over the phone, the frame splits between them--and we see that he is eating a donut while she is snacking on a banana. The first contrast that springs to mind is, of course, nutritional value. But now there's something that's making me wonder whether something a bit more Freudian is actually going on. =P

8. Anna Kendrick plays a young woman who finds herself pregnant after some spontaneous sex with an old flame she hasn't seen in years. In real life, he probably would have shrugged off all responsibility and she might have resorted to the modern girl's "final solution" to such things; but since this is a Romantic Comedy, the hottie she hooks up with turns out to be more than happy to be bound to her and their baby.

And yet it makes no difference. The bittersweet story that could have been a full-length film in its own right is still theirs . . . and the insta-resolution forced on them here is the weakest part of this movie.

7. So is Jennifer Lopez "America's Sweetheart" now? If nothing else, she's the new RomCom Queen.

Her character has the story with the twist: the baby she is expecting is in Ethiopia, and the "gestation period" involves getting through the obstacle course of adoption bureaucracy. But her husband isn't too crazy about the idea, and there was one point when I thought he'd bail and she'd have to be a single mother. (Apparently, I mix up my JLo RomComs these days--but even in the other one I had in mind, that sad twist didn't happen. =P)

Oh, incidentally, the first review of What to Expect When You're Expecting that I ever read was by a woman who had adopted several children internationally. And she loved the moment when Lopez's character asks another mother, "Is this your first adoption?" . . . and other other mother answers, "It's our fifth." (She had no comment on the husband's answer when the social worker asked why they were interested in an Ethiopian baby: "All the white babies were taken." LOL!!!)

6. Let's take Elizabeth Banks and Brooklyn Decker together because they are stepdaughter-in-law and stepmother-in-law. Banks's character has been preparing for this moment for years: she even owns a store that sells products for pregnant women and has written a children's book about breastfeeding. When it finally happens, however, it is not at all the pretty, pastel-hued period she had envisioned. And just to add insult to injury, her younger stepmother-in-law gets to experience the sort of pregnancy (and labour!) most women would kill to have.

Decker's character exists mostly as a foil to Banks's (and to every other pregnant woman in the world, apparently), but she is also the catalyst to a reconciliation between her husband and stepson.

5. Speaking of Teh Menz, they get a surprising chunk of screentime all to themselves. Not that quantity also means quality; but for what it's worth, I love the Dudes Group.

Ned Lennon Always Makes Me Laugh

I have a friend who insists that far too many male characters in novels and screenplays by modern women are not realistic portrayals of men and boys, but merely what women think men and boys are like. And that's certainly true for this phalanx of fathers, whose active involvement in their children's lives is portrayed as a manlier version of motherhood.

But I'm not going to get too worked up about that. Everything in this movie is ridiculous, and for the moment, I'd rather laugh than cry.

4. Back to the older father and son who've had an uneasy relationship for years. Yes, they get their own happy ending--and yes, the lameness of how they get from Point A to Point B cannot be emphasised too much. But there is one thing that saves that awful pool party scene . . . It's not often that you get baptismal imagery in a Chick Flick, you know! =P

Now the question is whether a "spiritual" rebirth among the literal births is just a coincidence . . . or an insertion as deliberate (if also ultimately as stupid) as the Reality TV element.

3. And now it's worth adding that my brother laughed whenever Rebel Wilson was on the screen. I think her supporting role was written just for her.(What a vulgar woman, though.)

2. Oh, yes . . . Cheryl Cole has a cameo! =) I shouldn't be so pleased . . . but I am.

1. So what to expect from a movie with a title like What to Expect When You're Expecting? How about exactly what you'd expect? LOL!

Image Source: a) What to Expect When You're Expecting poster, b) What to Expect When You're Expecting cast in Redbook shoot, c) The Dudes Group poster


Jenny said...

This is so why I want you to read The Handmaid's Tale and tell me what it means. I would never have even caught the banana doughnut thing. :)

Enbrethiliel said...


Is there some sort of "burial ground" in The Handmaid's Tale? That might bump it up the theoretical reading list a bit! ;-)

Spacetraveller said...

Me too - I would never have caught the banana and doughnut thing, unless it was made the focus of the scene :-)

I haven't seen this film, but I would like to, sort of.
It is excatly the kind of Hollywood 'reverse fantasy' that I try to avoid these days.
You are so right - men are portrayed like women with more hair. It is so damaging to do this, because young girls expect then something quite different when it comes to men they date... and get quite a shock when the reality hits.
I think this kind of Hollywood fantasy is that of gay men (and yes, of women). I heard somewhere that Hollywood (and also the fashion industry) is basically run by gay men...
I am beginning to suspect this is true!

Nice summary of this film! If I get the chance, I shall see it :-)

Enbrethiliel said...


The banana and donut are sort of the focus of the scene. There are a couple of frames (if I remember correctly) in which all we see are the two buffet tables, so you would have noticed the food even if you didn't think there was a deeper meaning to them. =)

That's an interesting point about Hollywood's romantic fantasies. I'm working on another review of such a movie right now. While watching, I kept groaning, "Oh, that never happens! Never, ever, ever!" And then my inner advocatus diaboli retorted, "And yet you're watching!" =P

But I'd better save the rest of that inner debate for the actual review!

As for men being portrayed as "women with more hair" (LOL!!!), I barely managed to avoid that theme in all of my Hunger Games posts. But if it keeps cropping up, I'll probably scratch that itch at last!