Finding Out ‘What to Expect’

Photos courtesy of Kevin Parry for PaleyFest
Photos courtesy of Kevin Parry for PaleyFest


“What to Expect When You’re Expecting” is a book that covers exactly what the title states. For many of us, it was a constant companion that was always there to tell us we were not alone, that the strange things that happen to a woman’s body during those nine months is perfectly normal, and – more importantly – that you will survive it all.

So how do you make a movie from a book that is basically a step-by-step guide for pregnancy, especially when almost every pregnant woman from the mid-1980s to present has read that book?

Screenplay writers Shauna Cross and Heather Hach along with director Kirk Jones took the path of telling many stories within the one theme of childbirth. There is the story of the woman who cannot conceive, played by Jennifer Lopez, the pregnant celebrity who does not want to stop working or even slow down, played by Cameron Diaz, the young woman played by Anna Kendrick who after one night with an old flame finds herself pregnant. There’s the young wife, portrayed by Broklyn Decker, who is married to an older man and doesn’t miss a beat while pregnant. She has that perfect little bump, no swelling, no discomfort – just the perfect pregnant glow.

And then the woman most of us who have given birth can relate to portrayed perfectly by Elizabeth Banks. She is the mom-to-be that has one concept of the miracle of birth and is quickly brought back reality: “Pregnancy sucks. Making a human being is really hard.”

The movie is smart. It is funny, thoughtful and true. Although it has been years since I was pregnant, the lie that is commonly told – “You will forget all of this once you see your baby” – remains fresh in my mind.

To be honest, once that baby is put in your arms, you do realize it was all worth it … but forget … I don’t think so. This movie takes that wonderful, exciting yet painful and uncomfortable time and highlights the absurdity of it all. It handles a subject that could easily be exaggerated by looking at the real comedy of the situations.

There are some very poignant scenes: The young couple coming to terms with their life, and the woman who desperately wants to adopt are portrayed in a respectful way.

The film also brings in the fathers’ point of view. This too is handled in a fun, not over the top, manner. It centers on dads bonding with other dads, which is refreshing to see.

For the most part “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” is a film that will make those of us who have been through it all smile while remembering. For those who have not been through the “miracle,” they will also find a reason to laugh.

It is rated PG-13. I took my 18- and 13-year-old daughters to the film. I have had honest conversations with my younger daughter about the miracle of life and all that involves, and didn’t feel anything was inappropriate for her in this film, but if you have not had a frank conversation with your child about the “joy” of birth, I would let the younger ones stay home.

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