When I was pregnant, I glanced at What to Expect When You’re Expecting by Heidi Murkoff. It wasn’t until I had my first child that I really delved into the details of raising one. It was on-the-job training. Of course, I was interested in what was going on inside my body, but other than that, I wanted parenthood to be a surprise. Pregnancy had taken me by surprise, when I found myself with child only after trying for six weeks (though I was exceedingly happy), and I remember the raging hormones and gradual changes in my life very well. The film version of the book reminded me of many of those moments, and for that, I am grateful. I like going back in time, remembering that time in my life that I will not be returning to…one that changed my life forever.
But as a film, the movie didn’t entirely work for me. Directed by Kirk Jones, with a screenplay by Shauna Cross, it features very high-profile actors and actresses, many who were likely cast for that reason, and not all of whom have experienced pregnancy in real life, like Cameron Diaz.
Diaz plays a fitness TV host on “Lose It and Weep” who gets impregnated by her dance partner, played by Matthew Morrison (who I admit I said a silent “Hooray” for when he came on screen). Not only could I not truly relate to her character who struggles with the decision of whether to circumcise her son or not, but her experience with pregnancy just didn’t seem genuine. I’m not saying that the actress needed to be pregnant to feel the part, but even her pregnant belly looked fake.
Jennifer Lopez plays a photographer, who’s adopting a child from Africa with her partner, played by Rodrigo Santoro. While their storyline is touching, it’s hard to understand his ambivalence about getting a child after they so clearly tried to have a child for years via IVF.
Anna Kendrick and Chace Crawford play former high school flames, now food-truck competitors, who become pregnant after a one-night stand. Their story doesn’t really fit with the others – they’re a lot younger than everyone else. I don’t want to reveal what the storyline involves, and it is an important pregnancy issue, but I would have preferred one less story-line as there are a lot to keep up with.
My favorite storyline involves Elizabeth Banks who owns a breast feeding shop who becomes pregnant with her hubby, who was once a contestant on Diaz’s show. She is one of those manic, over-the-top pregnant women who won’t use her cell phone out of concern for infecting the child in her belly. She has this fabulous assistant played by Australian actress Rebel Wilson (I am going to track down other films/shows she has been in) who puts pregnancy and motherhood in better perspective than anyone in the film, laughing all the way to the film’s end. Banks has an epiphany about being pregnant and motherhood near the end of the film when she breaks down about it publicly, landing herself on You Tube and becoming an online sensation with what becomes termed “Baby Lady Meltdown”, declaring that “It’s all bullshit” and that “Pregnancy sucks!” Banks, who has a child in real life, demonstrates the realities of pregnancy in a way that’s refreshing and real.
That’s only one of the funny moments this film offers, I must admit there are many (see, this is not a bad review, after all). Chris Rock and his walking group of other daddies (the DUDES GROUP, I’m not kidding) that meets every weekend in Central Park serves up the laughs royally with comments that really hit home like “Women control the universe- they carried the damn thing!” Their walks through the park are really riotous as they call cars “vaginas”. About parenthood, Rock declares, “You just jump on a train and hope to die.” They compete for the worst daddy mishaps which is hilarious: “Last week my kid ate a cigarette” and “I dropped mine off the changing table last week.”
I definitely shed a tear at the film’s end, when Lopez and Santoro pick up their adopted child in Ethiopia and we see Santoro’s character finally accept his new destiny. They pick him up in a traditional adoption ceremony and he is adorable, so we see them fall in love immediately. Now I want to go research adoption rituals and find out if that is what they really do.
Can I recommend this film? My companion during the film is pregnant herself and she definitely enjoyed it immensely, as the film opens a lot of the truth behind pregnancy and there is a lot to relate to, welcoming her into the “mommy club”. The film brought back memories of my own experiences and there were definitely elements of truth in my my own experiences, like the way I blamed my poor husband for “knocking me up” when I went into labor but forgot every ounce of pain as soon as my sweet Olivia and Max were born. Banks’ character really turns into someone I would want to know during her own mini evolution in the film, but other than her, I’m not sure if I really want to be friends with the other characters. The film was probably what I expected, as I wasn’t expecting much in the first place.
Disclosure: I was given complimentary tickets to a screening of this film, but all opinions are my own.