Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What to Expect When You're Expecting on DVD

In case you haven't picked up on this yet, I'm a very emotional movie watcher. I really get into my movies, and I don't mind a good cry. It's actually kind of cathartic for me. What to Expect When You're Expecting is one of the more emotionally satisfying movies I've seen in awhile. I bawled. I laughed out loud. And I did it again and again, back and forth, on a roller coaster of a ride. I'm not sure how this movie would affect people who haven't had kids or aren't mothers. I can't imagine it would be the same. Part of my reaction to the movie came from identifying with it in so many ways. I've suffered the miscarriages. I've waited years to get pregnant. I've had the embarrassing pregnant moments. And now I have the kids that make it all worth it.

To say this movie is based on the book What to Expect When You're Expecting is misleading. I think the book inspired a completely original idea for a movie, and the only thing the two really have in common is the title. One is a self-help book. The other is a handful of made-up stories about a variety of people encountering various pregnancy ups and downs. If there's any overlap there, it's only in the visual representation of some of the pregnancy scenarios you might encounter and the emotions that go with them.

This movie is a bit like another movie I recently reviewed, New Year's Eve, in that it's full of star actors, each with his or her own storyline. However, I think What to Expect When You're Expecting interweaves the stories better than New Year's Eve does. Each storyline also gets more time or, at least, involves the viewer more emotionally, so that the movie feels fuller and more complete.

Cameron Diaz, Matthew Morrison, Jennifer Lopez, Dennis Quaid, Anna Kendrick, and Chris Rock star. But those are just the actors I know best. There are five couples featured in this film, and all the performances are funny or heartfelt, including one by Elizabeth Banks just about every woman who's ever been pregnant probably identifies with.

Had I recently had a miscarriage and were I still waiting to get pregnant again, this movie might have been too much to handle. But having the distance I do now from the heartache, with successful pregnancies between, this movie was about perfect for me.

Sure, it's sometimes irreverent and at certain moments almost indecent. You can't have a discussion about the whole of pregnancy without at least alluding to the sex. But when you are trying to get pregnant, sex becomes more of a clinical thing. Therefore, the sexual aspect of this movie doesn't bother me as much as it does in most other movies. In fact, it offers room to discuss what it might mean to have sex outside of marriage. I was so happy to see the men in this movie stepping up and being willing to take responsibility with the women they impregnated outside of wedlock. Even though the movie reflects some of our society's moral degradation, it also shows some of the consequences of our actions. And though this movie might be TMI for some people, it's actually quite tasteful and not nearly as graphic as it could be. It's rated PG-13 for some sexuality, language, and mature thematic material. Sex is obviously implied, but not much is shown.

Speaking of too much information, I'm the type of person who can't stand to read all those books you're supposed to read before having kids. I let my husband do that, as he desired, and he passed along any critical information. I'm more of a tell-me-what-I-absolutely-have-to-know type of girl, and I'll figure out the rest. So, I appreciate the movie's nod to people like me when one of the characters is presented with a wall of information about pregnancy, and her partner says he'd rather not know what could go wrong. That is exactly what the book What to Expect When You're Expecting is all about: things that could go wrong! It was only a moment in the movie, but they hit it on the nail for me.

As I said before, I really don't know if this movie is for everyone. It might be one of those things where you have to have been there to get all of it. On the other hand, a couple who doesn't have kids yet told me recently that they thought it was hilarious, and there are certainly moments for everyone interspersed as a sort of comic relief among the more serious content. Overall, there's more comedy than tragedy, more to laugh about than cry about. But the balance of both is beautiful and deeply satisfying.

Four stars.


  1. Replies
    1. I'd really have to see it again. I have so many movies I like from so many different genres that it's hard to pick overall favorites. I DO have favorites, but I'm not sure if this qualifies or not. If I want to own it, then it's certainly in the running. The question is, do I want to own it? A part of me says "yes." A part of me needs to see it again to determine just how inappropriate it might be to have on the shelf when I have children running around. When my children are the right age, I want to be able to say, "Yeah, you can watch that," without reservations. In this case, that age might be 18. Ha, ha. I need to watch it more objectively to determine whether or not it's a keeper.


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