When it comes to film genres I am fairly open minded. I like all sorts from comedy through to grindhouse horror, I will even sit through a ‘chick flick’ when I have to. This is exactly what I thought I was getting when I started to watch What to Expect When You’re Expecting. However this was not the case.
Directed by Kirk Jones, a director who is still relatively new to the chair, and produced by Mike Medavoy and David Thwaites. What to Expect When You’re Expecting is based on a book by Heidi Murkoff.
The basic premise of the story is that the viewer casts a voyeuristic eye into the lives of 5 couples, who are, in one way or another, expecting a child. These couples’ lives are all intertwined through subtle subplots which develop throughout the film. It portrays the trials and tribulations of everything from the initial conceiving of the child all the way through to birth and beyond.
With a stellar cast of top celebrities including Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Dennis Quaid and Chris Rock, to name but a few, this film has gone big budget and big laughs.
I am a parent, as I’m sure many of you probably are too. Whilst I love my children dearly there are times when I wonder why I chose the path I did. Had I not had children I would undoubtedly be better off financially, drive a 2 seat sports car of some description (probably red) and the silver hairs that shimmer in the morning sunlight through my receding hairline would be the most fantastic chocolate brown.
This heart warming film took me back in time (minus the Delorean!) to the birth of my first child and reminded me exactly why I chose car seats and early male pattern baldness.
I am aware of the opinions of other critics with regard to this film, however, I disagree with them.
For me the film worked well on all levels, the plot was tight and held its ground well. To be fair, with this type of film, as long as you stick to reality and portray things as they are, the natural humour of a situation will shine through. It’s not trying to be The Usual Suspects or The Sixth Sense, there are no twists or turns to develop and withhold from the viewer until the final moments. The final moment is childbirth, which is fairly obvious from the start! To label this film as predictable is almost ironic.
The way in which the different couple’s lives intermingled was simplistic yet well thought out, and in some instances well delivered at the appropriate time. Various moments throughout the film carefully remind you of the other sub stories which are unfolding and stop you from focussing too much on one particular plotline.
Given the genre, there is little by way of effects to talk about, however there is comedy and plenty of it, enough without being farcical. Due to the narrative of the film, man plus woman plus childbirth, the laughs are easily set out and quite natural. A number of which occurred in my own experience of my partner’s pregnancy. It helped to have a cast of seasoned comedy actors who delivered well the lines they were given and depicted situations that arose with true realism.
As I said previously, this is not a ‘chick flick’. Man stands proudly within this movie and as such I believe it will appeal equally to a male audience as it would a female one. If anything, it was probably billed and marketed incorrectly toward the female species given certain aspects of the story.
One particularly masculine side to the narrative is the Dude group, a secret society of men who get together regularly, children in tow, in a park to offload to one another their problems. This gives for some very funny and often very true dialogue between the group.
The sides of both sexes is well balanced during the film and neither is leaned toward, each compliments the other and provides a good argument for both.
Whether this film appeals more to people who have children and have suffered through a difficult pregnancy, or those who have no children and therefore do not have the same level of understanding of the situation is not for me to say.
I personally enjoyed it as I could mirror certain parts to my own life, which made me feel less as though I were watching a film and more as if I were recapping a memory, or discussing a past event with someone close to me.
I will say however that as a heart warming, funny, romantic and dare I say it tear jerking film it ticks all the right boxes.
For me this film was a key which unlocked a treasure chest of memories, covering a time in my life which I will always look back on and say was my best, my most valiantly fought and my most worthwhile and for that I am truly grateful.
Director: Kirk Jones
Stars: Cameron Diaz, Matthew Morrison, J. Todd Smith, Jennifer Lopez, Dennis Quaid, Chris Rock
Runtime: 110 min