"What To Expect from a Hollywood Comedy with an Excessively Large Cast"
WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE EXPECTING traces the steps of fives couples in their collectively comical, learning-intensive and painstaking path to parenthood. With a high level of offensive sexual content and obscene language, along with a great tolerance for extramarital relations, WHAT TO EXPECT has too many characters and is ultimately unacceptable viewing for any age group, despite some positive elements.
WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE EXPECTING is a comedy that follows the experience of five couples as they face the challenges of pregnancy and/or adoption for the first time. From financial difficulties to serious health problems, balancing work and home life and preserving their relationships, all of their expectations fail to anticipate the severe setbacks that childbearing brings their way.
Fitness show host Jules (Cameron Diaz) and TV dance star Evan (Matthew Morrison) lead fast-paced, celebrity lives. This proves unsustainable when they’re confronted with the surprising demands of impending parenthood. Baby store owner and children’s book writer Wendy (Elizabeth Banks) and her husband Gary (Ben Falcone) have tried to get pregnant for several years. They finally succeed, only to be outdone by the simultaneous pregnancy of Gary’s rich, retired NASCAR champion father (Dennis Quade) and his very young, newly-acquired second wife (Brooklyn Decker). Then, there’s photographer Holly (Jennifer Lopez) and her husband, Alex (Rodrigo Santoro), who isn’t so sure about the whole idea of parenting. Alex decides to join a “dudes” support group where he can share his fears and learn about what to expect in a candid environment. Finally, Rosie (Anna Kendrick) and Marco (Chace Crawford) are the youngest, least experienced and most unlikely pair. They find themselves in their unplanned situation due to a night of irresponsibility and indulgence.
Together, as their stories intertwine, these couples learn about the often painful but nonetheless rewarding and joyful experience of becoming parents, in spite of the hardship and exhaustion associated with the process. The quality of the production is high, but viewers probably will feel somewhat overwhelmed by the number of characters covered and al the different stories taking place at once. Moreover, WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE EXPECTING may remind viewers of other movies seem to sacrifice depth and rigor for star power and easy entertainment value.
Sadly, from the very beginning, WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE EXPECTING is marked by one sexually promiscuous scene or conversation after another. Ranging from flippant, non-committal, sexual commentary to explicit sexual behavior, the movie sells and exploits sexual immorality at many turns. Several scenes, for example, glorify wild partying. Thus, despite the occasional heart-felt and sincere instances of compassion, honesty, and reconciliation, crude humor and licentious dress dominate. The film casually treats and implicitly condones extramarital sexual conduct repeatedly, implying more than one occurrence of pre-marital intercourse and cohabitation. In its more redeeming moments, there is actually a consistent, underlying positive moral message about the necessity of fidelity and compromise in relationships. The importance of family also is clearly highlighted, reproduction is repeatedly described as miraculous, and there’s a touching adoption ceremony in Ethiopia that makes reference to God.
However, the sanctity of the institution of marriage is ultimately rendered optional if not inconsequential and irrelevant. Certainly it’s not portrayed as normative. This is especially misleading, in fact, because one is left with a “happily ever-after” impression over and against the harsh reality that the majority of extramarital sexual relationships end in separation and single-parenting difficulties. Thus, the attempt to convey optimism about the outcomes of child-rearing alongside a lax attitude toward the formality of marriage is undermined by the movie’s more pronounced sentiment of sexual “freedom” within the confines of commitment. While this view is perhaps defensible from a secular perspective, it falls well short of the biblical expectation and the mandate within the context of confessional Christian communities for lifelong matrimony and discipleship.
Adults may find some of the content to be quite funny, but this would come at too high a cost and risk. Much of the movie’s humor is at the expense of a more dignified alternative. Men and women alike as viewers are sure to be tempted to lust after the objectifying and dehumanizing depictions of what could otherwise be God-honoring bodies. Furthermore, WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE EXPECTING unapologetically celebrates conventional morality and the sell-out culture of the corporate, mainstream media establishment. For these reasons, this movie is not recommended. Children, teens, and adults alike should seek more wholesome, uplifting entertainment that resists the exchange of integrity for trendiness, even though the movie admittedly contains a few valuable lessons and cheap laughs.
(PaPa, Ro, H, B, LLL, V, SS, NN, AA, DD, MM) Mixed or pagan worldview with Romantic, humanist, moral elements, including some theistic references and acknowledgement of the miraculous; 33 obscenities (about half of which seem to be sexual jokes and innuendos), three profanities, one vomiting scene due to pregnancy, three toilet humor, repeated talk about male and female genitalia in vulgar terms; mild violence when a young man has his foot run over by a van and two intense birth scenes at the hospital, one of which has some blood; strong level of sexual content with two instances of implied fornication, heavy petting, suggestive dancing, intense kissing; low-cut and cleavage-showing female dresses scattered throughout entire movie, two especially risqué scenes of girls in bikinis and very skimpy attire on a dancing show at the beginning with very sexual moves performed, three upper male nudities, one brief picture of girls in string bikinis on a wall poster; four scenes of alcohol consumption, one of which implies drunkenness; one remark about cigarettes and smoking, one story told about illegal drug use; and, strong miscellaneous immorality includes lying, bad role models, a dysfunctional father-son relationship, and moral relativism.
WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE EXPECTING is a comedy about the challenges of pregnancy and adoption. It follows five couples through imminent parenthood. Along the way, there are many unexpected twists. “You’re never ready for it,” the characters say. Instead, you just have to go for it and jump on a ride that’s sure to be an emotional rollercoaster. The characters undergo shocking and comical turns of events. They stick it out through the tough times, sometimes with the support of others who share their struggles. The ending suggests these future parents may not only survive but even end up happy when it’s all said and done.
WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE EXPECTING has high production values, but there are just too many characters. This makes the comic and heartfelt moments seem superficial. It’s also a little overwhelming. Worse, sexual vulgarity and immorality is pervasive, despite some moral elements and positive references to God and the miracle of children. The filmmakers encourage faithfulness, but they also suggest marriage isn’t a requirement for happiness. MOVIEGUIDE® thinks moviegoers can do much better with their time than WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE EXPECTING.