I thought I was gonna hafta hate on this film, but lo and behold I am pretty much lovin’ on it!
First of all, this is a very well-constructed film. Excellence in filmmaking. Excellence in COMEDIC filmmaking which is NOT easy. Excellence in ENSEMBLE filmmaking which is even harder. THIS is how it’s done, people! Hollywood never ceases to amaze when they get it right.
Second of all, this is slightly more a guy/Dad’s film than a gal/Mom’s film, so I assumed the writer was male. Nope. Two chicks. I wonder if they asked guy friends “what they would say or do” in a given situation, because the guy parts are the funniest.
Why was I all set to hate on this film? Because I thought it was going to be another one of those: “Babies actually emasculate men” films. “Being married is a drag, and being a Dad is even worse” films. But, it’s not! This is a laugh-a-minute, fun ride of a film that follows several couples through pregnancies (some quite unplanned ) and births (with one adoption). Each character is more unique and well-developed than in most single-couple romantic films! Each scene is working overtime to give us lots of information and delight us with all kinds of hilarious “touches.” The acting is superb, the transitions are superb, the directing and editing, the dialogue and plot points are superb. Did I mention that the acting is superb? The cast simply out-acts each other scene after scene.
Is it crude? Oh yeah, but mostly in the beginning, and then it becomes much sweeter and realer (and stays just as funny BECAUSE it’s being so honest). I’m still surprised that women wrote this because the writing is so tough-minded—but kudos to Shauna Cross (“Whip It”) and Heather Hach (“Freaky Friday”) for a smart, tight, fine job. British director, Kirk Jones ("Waking Ned Devine," "Nanny McPhee") is scrumtrulescent.
Remember, the whole movie is about sex because it's about pregnancy and babies.
As is the custom today, things are mostly done backwards: jump in the sack immediately, have the baby, get married.
Is this a “Theology of the Body” film? Indirectly, yes. It shows the best of what’s possible in male/female relationships and the joy of being parents when both partners are “in it” no matter what. It shows taking life on the chin, the sorrows with the joys, turning lemons into lemonade, and having a healthy sense of humor about it all. Babies are called “miracles” many times, only once or twice with a hint of sarcasm.
The best part of the movie is the REAL issues, problems, and seemingly irreconcilable differences between the couples. Dilemmas that in other films (and perhaps real life) would be deal-breakers. But the “What To Expect” couples stay the course, and the big blowout arguments and all-too-typical fights are either resolved or semi-resolved in extremely healthy ways. We are served up that genuine relationships are an ongoing process of give and take. We just do NOT see this. Anywhere. And we need it so badly. Children of divorce do not know how to deal with marital conflict and they’re terrified of it. “What To Expect” handles it fabulously. Bravo.
“What To Expect” totally prepares one for the grossness and pain and “imperfectness” and uncontrollability of the whole process. It even shows how both men and women need to overcome all their false notions of being parents, but also false “expectations” of male/female relationships.
Not to be missed is the hysterical Daddy Dude Group that meets Saturday mornings in the park. Let’s just say it’s male-adaptive parenting. Emphasis definitely NOT on hovering, helicopter-parenting. Much more laid back. Guys just do parenting differently. MUCH differently.
There is warmth in this film, and it seems to be coming from a good place. The marital arrangements may be heterodox, but the “spirit of the law” is observed. Moral of the story: “When it comes to babies, there’s no such thing as ‘ready.’”
DISCLAIMER: Some feedback I got on this review said I wasn't clear enough about the wrongness of sex outside marriage. I do not believe in sex outside marriage in any form. Sex speaks the language of "you alone forever." Sex outside marriage is a kind of a lie spoken with the body. It is damaging and destructive. Sexual love is FUNDAMENTAL, FREE, FAITHFUL (marriage), FULL AND FRUITFUL.
--This movie reminded me of a time recently when I was with a bunch of home-school Moms who were trying to outdo each other in “small child ickiness” stories. They talked about having barf buckets around the house and at the kids’ bedsides (what is it with the peewees’ digestive tracts?) The Mom who won the Groddy-to-the-Max Award was the Mom who told of holding her baby over her head and the kid puked into HER mouth.
--I have friends who’ve been married 15 years. Their younger college-age friends greatly admire their marriage. But when the college students see them argue, they get scared and disillusioned: “But I thought you loved each other! But you’re fighting!” My married couple friends take this opportunity to tell them: “Yes—we’d better be fighting or our marriage isn’t real! Lovers’ quarrels!” Young people can tend to think that any kind of discord means “road to divorce.”
--“What To Expect When You’re Expecting” might be good “required viewing” for marriage prep courses!
--There are quite a few great side characters, too. All fleshed out. Well inserted, well used. Great, great filmmaking.
--Interesting how today everyone talks like a scientist: IVF, genetics, DNA, etc.
--Abortion is simply not an option. Not on the table.
--Some great affirmations of the need to man-up to fatherhood. And loving fatherhood.
--“What to Expect” gets so real. Says what people are really thinking and feeling. And it’s not the “awful truth.” It’s a pretty beautiful truth.
--It’s OK to fight and feel crappy and sick and be scared and make mistakes in this whole new world of parenting!
--Trophy wife as heroine!
--The ovulation app.
--“Babies can smell fear.”
--I would actually watch this film again (partly to catch ALL the jokes). And I hardly ever watch films twice.