Wednesday, June 6, 2012

What to Expect When You See a Movie About Pregnancy

As I mentioned in The Dude’s Guide to Surviving Your First Pregnancy, I recommend parents see as many movies in theaters as they can before their kids arrive. In over 2 ½ years, I had gone to 3 movies until a few days ago when I added another notch to my comfort-fit elastic belt. 

There’s been tons of movies I’ve wanted to see since the Little Dude was hatched but with the cost of tickets, food and a babysitter almost equal to the Gross National Product of Iceland we usually defer viewing until it’s on cable, video or, most likely, never. These are the sacrifices we make for our children.

Speaking of children, what fine piece of cinema did we break our year-long streak with? The film adaptation of What to Expect When you are Expecting.  As I mentioned in the link in the first paragraph, I urge people not to read that book while pregnant (not that you’d read it any other time), because it is filled with horror stories that will frighten people into abstinence.   

I was curious how a medical-fact based non-fiction book would be turned into a fictionalized movie.  Turns out they went with a tried and true formula: hire some popular actors (Cameron Diaz, Matthew Morrison, Jennifer Lopez, Chace Crawford), write a bunch of vignettes that kinda-sorta-but-not-really intertwine in a forced manner and finally throw in some comic relief (Chris Rock) to drop zingers in the trailer to make sure guys will want to watch it.

This formula has been popular for a several years dating back to Love Actually, which was actually a very entertaining movie.  However, the formula has become more worn out than a one-legged pirate’s kickstand through nonsensical tripe like Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve. I can’t imagine we are that far from seeing Arbor Day: The Musical or a mini-series about March Madness.  And as long as Jessica Biel and/or Zac Efron star, they should do fine.

So back to the WTEWYAE movie, it featured an all-star cast and a no-star plot.  My question on how they could turn this semi-clinical book into a movie was answered when I realized after it ended that they simply picked a handful of pregnancy clich├ęs and added a few "punchlines" to them. It was also obvious what their motivation was when you notice that the four main characters who are pregnant in the movie are all played by actresses who've never given birth before. How about showing some real women for a change, Hollywood?

Pregnancy is an amazing experience. Having been through it completely once and now halfway through my second  turn, I am in awe of what the female body can endure and how it transforms as it takes a bunch of goop and makes a person out of it.  If they sold a machine that did that at Sharper Image, well, they might not have gone bankrupt.  But the screenwriters here felt compelled to fill the movie with obvious jokes about sore boobs and farting. Yes, those are real pregnancy side effects but this movie could have sold them in much more creative ways.  

One thing in the trailer that made me want to see the movie was the “Dudes Group” storyline about a bunch of fathers who hang out at the park together with their infants, none of who apparently ever needs a diaper change.  That was actually a little surprising since Chris Rock had most of the funny lines in the movie, which I’d think might make some of the toddlers laugh so hard they’d wet their little designer pants. I appreciate that the film recognized that fathers do often play a vital role in raising children these days, but somehow these Dudes just weren’t believable.  Another case of the media portraying Fathers as morons. 
Any guy who doesn't know how to hold a baby is a dope. 
I had higher hopes for this film, though I don’t see many movies so maybe this is considered quality these days. Now that I know that what to expect when going to the theater is a lot of worn out gags, I will expect that next time I see a film. Most likely around June, 2013. 

Did you see this movie? What did you think of it?


  1. I saw some good reviews of the movie on blogs, but they were all from people who were invited to a free screening, so you know these reviews might be a little tainted (even if it's a subconscious taint. And by the way, if you plan on starting a punk band, The Subconscious Taint is a great name).

    1. I just trademarked that name. Thanks for the idea :)