Great Expectations

I am just going to come out and say it: I didn’t expect much from this film. I am not a “chick flick” kind of person. There are only a few films in that genre that I have really, really enjoyed, and most were in the 1990s (Hope Floats, people. Hope. Floats.)

What to Expect When You Are Expecting (inspired by the book by Heidi Murkoff, who is also an executive producer) tells the baby-related stories of five couples (made up of
incredibly good looking people by the way. I mean, really, Cameron Diaz, your “pregnant” body is this non-preggo’s dream body). I was sucked in immediately to the relationship
of Holly and Alex (Jennifer Lopez, Rodrigo Santoro) who are in the process of adopting a baby from Africa. Unlike many ensemble romantic comedies, these characters are likable,
and if they weren’t the most gorgeous couple that has ever walked the earth, I may have even been able to relate to their emotional tension over impending parenthood, losing
a job–and salvaging a relationship that is under tremendous pressure.

The couples are tied together through friendships and family, yet that, happily, is not the focus of the film. Jules and Eric (Cameron Diaz, Matthew Morrison) are contestants
on a celebrity dance show. Their winning moment made me laugh out loud because I remember morning sickness–and I appreciate low-brow humor. Jules is also a trainer on a
weight loss program; Gary (Ben Falcone) was once a contestant and is now gaining weight back as his wife Wendy (Elizabeth Banks) and his competitive father’s gorgeous
young wife (Brooklyn Decker) go through their pregnancies simultaneously. Elizabeth Banks is deliciously funny and painfully sympathetic as the breast-feeding-themed store
owner who craves a baby, longing for-and imagining-the perfection of pregnancy. She has an outrageously awesome assistant (Rebel Wilson), whose cell phone she smashes in
attempt to protect her unborn child from harmful rays. Banks’ portrayal of bloated, gassy, cranky, teary, outrageously boobed-out pregnant Wendy made my heart laugh. I get you, girl.

There is a deeper meaning in the film’s title–this is not only about expecting babies. This is about the expectations we have of ourselves, our partners, our lives, and how we learn
to adjust in the midst of disappointment. The dimensions of the characters as individuals and couples are highlighted in this way: Gary’s needs of his race-car driver father (Dennis
Quaid) have clearly never been met; Rosie (Anna Kendrick) angrily insists one-night-stand Marco (Chase Crawford) will never be there or support her unplanned pregnancy; Holly
assumes her husband is–or should be–as ready as she is for their new baby; Jules demands herself to be able to function alone, without help.

The absolute best part of this film is Chris Rock. Actually, the best part of anything is Chris Rock. He and a group of dads — excuse me, “Dudes” (Rob Huebel, Tom Lennon, Amir Talai) — take Alex on and while walking with their babies, explain to him their version of parenting. As well, they all have a man crush on hunky, sexy, athletic–where was I?–oh yes, the player, Joe Manganiello. I wouldn’t let these guys babysit my kids, but there is a colorful and hilarious description of how a man’s view of his wife’s “lady parts” changes once a baby emerges. I’m so glad we can laugh about this.

Of course, by the last scenes of the film, I was tearing up regularly and wondering how I’d tell my husband I want a fourth baby. A little corny and exaggerated, with impossibly
beautiful people, the complicated process of “expecting” still somehow comes through with humor and just enough sentimentality to remind us of of why we pay the prices we
do to become a family.


Wendy Bradford is a mama of three, wife, writer, spin instructor, ardent New Yorker and blogger at

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