It is generally considered that after marriage comes children, and after the success of marital comedy Bridesmaids, I had feared it could spark a new-wave of similarly-toned comedies that would fail to live up to Paul Feig's Oscar nominated feature. And What to Expect When You're Expecting has proved such apprehensions to be correct, in an unpleasantly dull film about childbirth.
This is an ensemble feature depicting five interconnecting stories of couples expecting their first child, preparing for the thrills, excitement and heartbreak that can come with such an experience. We have reality TV stars Jules (Cameron Diaz) and Evan (Matthew Morrison) unexpectedly expecting, as well as Wendy (Elizabeth Banks) and Gary (Ben Falcone) who had been trying for ages.
We also delve into the lives of Holly (Jennifer Lopez) and Alex (Rodrigo Santoro) who are adopting, as well as Gary's dad Ramsey (Dennis Quaid), expecting a child with his wife Skyler (Brooklyn Decker), and finally one-night stand victims Rosie (Anna Kendrick) and Marco (Chace Crawford), who have to suffer with the horrible implications of a miscarriage. The five couples, who despite the conflicting circumstances, are all experiencing the very same thing; the significances of child birth.
Whilst mostly despising every character and every single aspect to this movie, one must acknowledge that this film isn't aimed at me in any way. However, I struggle to envisage its own target audience enjoying it either, although fans of the television series One Born Every Minute are likely to lap it up. Except this isn't real. And One Born Every Minute is probably funnier. In fairness, director Kirk Jones is fully aware of his audience, as he even plays on the reality TV aspect within the film, with various clips from fictional dance shows, where our very own Cheryl Cole makes a cameo appearance.
Yet ignoring the themes explored, the greatest misgiving to this film is that it's an ensemble feature, which so rarely works. Recent attempts such as New Year's Eve and Valentine's Day and even going back to Love Actually - are generally quite appalling and offer very little to their audiences. The reason for such a lack of success in such a genre is perhaps because it just feels like too many contrived and unnatural attempts to tie up loose ends and blend stories into one another. In my own little world I had hoped that the inevitable meetings between the separate couples would come a few years down the line - in a head teacher’s office after their little brats had got into trouble. Again.
Due to there being so many parallel stories, the audience also suffer in a sense that you don't feel as though you really know any of the characters given their lack of screen time, as there are no true leading roles. All this does is disallow any personal attachment to the characters, meaning you lack the empathy to care about their pregnancies or family issues.
The cast itself isn't actually too bad - with a host of comedic performers who often shine in such a film, particularly amongst the husbands we are introduced to, who look after their children during the day. Yet despite bearing talent in the likes of Chris Rock, Rob Huebel and Thomas Lennon, between them all there are very few moments that actually amount to any humour.
Having sat through a host of scenes featuring women talking about babies, I had hoped the scenes featuring the husbands would offer some light relief away from the consistent theme of childbirth. Butt they were just as bad, if not worse. They are supposedly representing the ordinary man, yet instead of deviating away from pregnancy and raising children, it's all they bloody speak about too.
Despite having so many apprehensions towards What to Expect When You're Expecting, it is somewhat difficult to truly criticise this picture, as I couldn't be further from the targeted audience, and all things considered, the picture has proven to be exactly as I had expected it to be, so I should try not to moan too much.