Making the Grades
If overpopulation is a concern of yours, then by all means purchase and distribute as many tickets to this film as you can afford because even the most determined prospective parent may give up on their nesting instincts by the time they are through with this.
Borrowing the look and feel of recent films from Garry Marshal (director ofValentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve), What to Expect When You’re Expecting is chock full of characters who exist in a plot no deeper than a kids’ wading pool. Inspired by a non-fiction book with the same title, the screenwriters have conceived (ahem…) a script featuring five couples that are all in the state of expectancy.
Topping the famous faces list in this cast is Jules (Cameron Diaz), a TV fitness guru married to a celebrity husband (Matthew Morrison). Running a small business devoted to “breast is best” is natural pregnancy advocate Wendy (Elizabeth Banks) who gets a taste of her own advice when faced with the hormonal onslaught of growing a baby. Meanwhile her husband Gary (Ben Falcone) struggles with pregnancy-stress-induced weight gain after appearing on a “Biggest Loser”-style TV show. Gary’s “need to feed” may also be the result of the competition he is constantly engaged in with his wealthy father (Dennis Quaid) who’s expecting twins with his twenty-something wife (Brooklyn Decker). Not able to get access to the expecting club quite as easily are photographer Holly and her husband Alex (Jennifer Lopez and Rodrigo Santoro), so the infertile couple looks to Ethiopia to arranged an adoption. However Alex isn’t so sure he’s up to the task of being a dad—a problem that’s aggravated by his parenting-inept group of male friends. And at the bottom of this film’s social ladder is Marco and Rosie (Chace Crawford and Anna Kendrick). Proprietors of competing food truck businesses, they engage in an impulsive rendezvous that redefines fraternizing with the competition.
Frequent discussions surrounding conception, breastfeeding, circumcision and pregnancy result in explicit sexual discussions and innuendo using both anatomical and crude terms. Scatological slang, names of deity and profanities, including a full sexual expletive (along with a couple of abbreviated ones) are frequently heard. The movie shows characters drinking alcohol too. And a couple of the pregnancies experience realistic complications that create perilous and sorrowful situations.
It appears the movie’s female authors are attempting to communicate a “We feel your pain” message to the women in their audience. The wide range of pregnancy challenges portrayed should offer solace for anyone who has endured maternal discomfort. As well, the story provides the opportunity to despise those that don’t have it as bad when the rich young trophy wife delivers her matched set of infants with barely a bead of sweat. Yet sadly this estrogen-laced camaraderie comes at the cost of demeaning not only particular types of women but also most of the men. While all of the cast members are saddled with reams of immature dialogue, this is especially true for the males who are portrayed as infantile morons barely able to cope with basic childcare.
While hardly recommendable for any viewers, this film is perhaps even more unsuitable for anyone considering becoming a parent.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about What to Expect When You’re Expecting.
What do you think is this film’s overall attitude toward pregnancy? Does the answer to this question depend on your own experience with the topic? Do you think you your feeling would vary depending on whether or not you have gone through childbirth?
How do movies typically depict men in stories relating to pregnancy? Is this a fair stereotype? How would a movie be received if the sex roles were reversed?
How many product placements can you find in this film? What are some of the ways the creators of this movie weave these placements into the storyline (including characters’ names)?
This movie is inspired by the title of the book What to Expect When You’re Expecting by Heidi Murkoff. Perspective parents can access the author’s advice at this website: http://www.whattoexpect.com/what-to-expect/landing-page.aspx