Iain Gray Freelance Writer

What To Expect When You’re Expecting - Review

This ensemble piece about wanting, growing, and finally producing babies follows in the familial footsteps of Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve in that everyone in the film is connected to everyone else and everyone learns a valuable lesson by the end. Did I say valuable? I apologise. I clearly meant trite.

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Unlike those two previous films, however, I am actually a small part of the audience demographic for this one. As a relatively new father (little girl of 18 months with no crippling injuries so far yay me!) it’s nice to see that I am catered for in the form of a group of offensive, lacklustre dads who meet every Saturday and moan about parenthood while discussing their supervisory shortcomings - “I found my baby swimming in the toilet”. Perhaps unsurprisingly these scenes provide the most laughs, even if they all utterly wimp out at the end and eulogise about how much they love being parents. Dastards.

It also differs from its two older, stupider siblings in that it isn’t a complete cinematic abortion. That’s certainly not to say that What to Expect… is challenging the likes of Short Cuts or Pulp Fiction to be in the list of the 10 (1000?) best ensemble films ever, but neither did watching it make me want to punch Hilary Swank in the face, as New Year’s Eve did. This is mostly due to Elizabeth Banks, who delivers a performance of warmth, humour and heart as a baby-guide writer discovering that it’s not all big boobs and glowing skin once you have boarded the pregnancy bus.

Yet what sums up the cynical, marketing-led nature of the film is that Banks’ character’s triumphant public epiphany appears to have been cheaply (and technically quite crudely) cut by the film’s editors. This is presumably to achieve a 12A rating rather than a 15, thus making the film accessible to that all-important pre-teen pregnancy market. It’s thanks to box office-greedy ploys like this that the film as a whole is about as appealing as a conversation about contraception with your parents.

Verdict
Utterly predictable, emotionally-manipulative, and occasionally unforgivably cynical, What To Expect… has just enough humour and engaging performances to prevent cramps and nausea during viewing.


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