So we're making self-help books into movies now. Is this where we finally say that enough is enough and realize that maybe the movie business has run out of ideas? Well, for the sake of argument the only thing about this movie that represents its source material is the title and the fact that it deals with pregnancy.
'What to Expect When You're Expecting' is a movie that reeks of flimsy source material. Being based on a self-help book that women read during their pregnancy doesn't really offer a strong foundation for comedy and drama, so director Kirk Jones ('Nanny McPhee) and crew have populated their movie with as many familiar faces as possible hoping that you totally forget that this is one of the least imaginative movies of the year.
The thought here is that if they get enough women people recognize – Elizabeth Banks, Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Brooklyn Decker, and Anna Kendrick – make them all pregnant, the audience will automatically like the movie. Basically amounting to Hollywood's version of, "Hey look at these shiny keys!" However, they didn't stop there. This movie is an ultra-ensemble piece. Matthew Morrison, Dennis Quaid, Chris Rock, Rodrigo Santoro, and Thomas Lennon are all on hand to illicit the, "Hey, that guy is in this too?" exclamation. The movie is packed to the brim with actors and actresses who have made some pretty entertaining movies over the years. However, throwing them all together, surprisingly, makes for a pretty boring experience.
It would take forever to explain who everyone is in this movie, but here it goes: Diaz plays a fictional Jillian Michaels who gets impregnated by her 'Dancing with the Stars' partner played by Morrison; Banks is a neurotic baby shop own who has written a book about breast-feeding but can't seem to reproduce until now; Decker is the trophy wife of a washed-up racecar phenom played by Quaid; Lopez can't get pregnant and instead opts to adopt a child from Africa; Kendrick accidentally gets knocked up but her pregnancy has complications; Rock and Lennon lead a group of Mr.-Moms who strut around the city park with their dozen or so children.
So, now you get the gist right? Everyone is pregnant and the clichés mount up. The women turn moody, they crave weird things, the husbands are put on the defensive, nothing goes right, and on and on it goes. Newsflash, pregnancy isn't pretty! It's a minefield of wacky emotions, heightened stress, and nerve-wracking insecurity about the future. Did men really need a movie to remind them how crazy those nine months were? Did women really need a movie to show how crazy things were during those nine months? Did we really need this movie at all?
The problem is all of these stories are loosely based on pregnancy clichés. The movie never tries to tackle the deeper emotional issues that come along with ushering new life into this world. The only story remotely resembling anything worth watching is the story about Kendrick's character. She actually undergoes something approximating drama. Everyone else is thrust into a trope-filled caricature of pregnancy, leading right up to the all-too-predictable ending where every woman ends up in the hospital at the same time delivering their baby on the same day.
If you're distracted by a bunch of familiar faces and care little about substance then 'What to Expect When You're Expecting' is for you.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This Lionsgate release comes in a standard Blu-ray keepcase and comes complete with a 50GB Blu-ray Disc and an UltraViolet Digital Copy. There is a slipcover provided. It's coded for Region A use.
No surprise here. This is a very recent movie and its transfer over to Blu-ray is fairly flawless. Its 1080p picture exhibits all the signs of a rom-com; bubbling primaries, slightly-too-warm skin tones, and a pristine clarity.
Lionsgate has provided a very nice look transfer here. Facial features are provided stellar definition as brow lines crease, smile lines form, and sweat pores from women that are in labor. The individual beads of sweat on Banks' head during her delivery are easily seen. Even mid-range shots feature a very nice array of crisp detailing. The shots of the baby-daddies walking around the park display clearly defined edges on trees, leaves, grass, and strollers. Everything has that very strong HD punch.
Colors are very warm and inviting. Skin tones seem to lean ever-so-slightly to the orange spectrum, but most rom-coms nowadays feature that kind of color palette anyway. Blacks are nice and deep creating believable nighttime scenes with well-delineated shadows. The movie may be a colossal waste of time, but hey, it looks good.
Lionsgate has provided a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix. This is one of those movies where you'll find yourself wondering, was it really worth putting a couple extra channels in here? The truth is, with the exception of one or two scenes, this movie never really needs a 7.1 mix. There's just not enough going on here to fill up each channel with believably engulfing sound.
It's a talky rom-com so much of it is centered up front. This front-heavy mix has a hard time working its way around to the other speakers. There is a golf cart race that takes full advantage of side and rear speakers. There are also a few scenes during the movie's version of 'Dancing with the Stars' that feature very nice surround sound. Other than those few scenes the rest of the movie camps out in the front portion of the soundfield. There isn't anything technically wrong with the presentation at all, it's just that the movie's audio source has a hard time filling up the extra space in a 7.1 setup.
'What to Expect When You're Expecting' provides one, count 'em, one worthwhile story out of the whole bunch. The story with Anna Kendrick deserves a different movie. The rest of this movie relies on tired pregnancy clichés and ridiculous plotting. The entire movie is a fake-out. With all these famous faces the filmmakers are hoping you'll forget you're watching complete garbage. It looks and sounds fine, but that shouldn't matter since the movie feels more like sitting through a few hours of actual labor. Just avoid this one.