Movie Review (2012)
Film: “What To Expect When You’re Expecting”
Actors: Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Banks
Director: Kirk Jones
In one of most profound dialogues of the film, a character referring to parenthood says, “There’s no such thing as ready. You just get into a running train and hope not to die.”
Thankfully the film, unlike being a parent, is a fairly smooth and entertaining ride that has a universal appeal to both parents and those who ever had a father or a mother.
In the city of New York, seven couples, leading different lives, have one thing in common. Each is becoming a parent.
Someone is having twins, someone is adopting. Some are having a smooth delivery while others are going through a lot of emotional and physical pains. Those who are adopting, are going through their own pangs.
Yet, beyond all these different emotions, one emotion that unifies them, and humanity, is the bliss of being a parent.
The film is based on incidents in the book of the same name — “What To Expect When You’re Expecting”. Despite being cliched and average, the film is brilliant in many ways.
If you closely observe the many strands of plot unfolding, you realise that the overall intention of the filmmakers is to give a complete picture of parenthood. Thus you have a couple having twins, another adopting, one whose accidental pregnancy leads to abortion, a man way past his prime competing with his son, etc.
That the film manages to untangle so many plots running simultaneously, giving idiosyncrasies and enough space to each character to develop, is a great achievement.
The film thus becomes a tribute to what comes after the pain, agony and anxiety of pregnancy for both parents – the miracle of holding a tiny life in the palm of your hand after nine excruciating months.
Even if it means another 20 odd years of more parenting pain, nothing beats that first touch, that has spread beauty and life throughout the planet and made it so beautiful.
The casting is near perfect. Be it Cameron Diaz as the alpha-pregnant-woman, or Jennifer Lopez as the anguished woman who adopts because she cannot conceive or Elizabeth Banks as the woman who is going through an extremely difficult pregnancy. She is also harassed by her husband’s constant competition with his father – but the actors bear the pain and pleasure of pregnancy like a glow on their face.
In the end, it nicely rounds up all the runaway plots and ties them up in a neat, conceivable bundle and sets you on your journey back home with a smile on your face, and an attitude looking forward to the day when you’ll be parent, or reminiscing the day you were.
In the end, like the play Vagina Monologues, this one seems to have found the perfect cinematic franchisee. The film can literally have an infinite number of sequels and can be remade in different contexts with different stories populating the universe of the film.