What to Expect When You're Expecting Review

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Five couples, from a TV celebrity (Diaz) and her professional dance partner (Morrison) to a young pair of rival takeaway food van vendors (Kendrick, Crawford), are expecting babies. They cross paths in Atlanta while struggling variously with commitment anxiety, family dysfunction, finances, raging hormones and bladder control.


Continuing the limp trend of high-concept ensemble comedies - curse you, Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve! - this muddled jape takes its title from the best-selling Heidi Murkoff pregnancy guide. Contriving a plot around an advice book was not the greatest idea Hollywood has had of late, nor was casting several actresses who don’t exactly strike one as the mumsy types.

A massive problem is that few of the characters are even likable. Cameron Diaz’s control freak Jules - tough physical trainer on a TV weight loss competition - is an obnoxious bitch who steamrollers over her lover’s every utterance. Jennifer Lopez’s Holly loses her job but stupidly hides it from her worried husband in order to proceed with their adoption of an African orphan. Dennis Quaid plays a rich, boorish bully whose tootsie trophy wife (Decker) falls preggers beautifully and with no complications at precisely the same time his brow-beaten son Gary (Bridesmaids’ air marshal Ben Falcone) and desperate-for-a-baby daughter-in-law Wendy (Banks) finally strike lucky with IVF and endure nine months of everything uncomfortable and embarrassingly yucky that the unluckiest expectants can possible experience. In case all of this isn’t funny enough (and it isn’t) Holly’s hubby Alex (Santoro) joins a dads’ group presided over by Chris Rock. These chaps meet up regularly in a park to dispense life wisdom and fathering tips over their strollers. They aren’t funny either.

Meanwhile, an one-off grapple in a car park sees the more sympathetic Kendrick and Crawford dealing with the reproductive consequences in a more sober string of vignettes that belong in a different movie. At almost the last second someone remembered to give Kendrick a line of exposition that connects them, albeit tenuously, to some of the other characters, as if it matters at that stage of the game.

Poor Kirk Jones, who directed Nanny McPhee and Waking Ned, can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear of a script. But he could have left out the golf cart chase.

It’s Valentine’s Day with more babies and fewer attractive people. Neither a date movie (run for the hills, boys!), nor a chick flick (who wants to know the icky bits?), its intended appeal is a poser. Heavily pregnant people and those with newborns don’