As unorthodox as it may be, an IMDB commentator said it best about What to Expect When You’re Expecting: The chickiest chick flick that ever flicked. It’s funny and absurdly truthful, as the guy perspective here is forced into work just because marketing said so. Oh, and this might be the quintessential “trailer movie,” meaning of course the trailer had the best content.
There are few laughs as the movie winds through the lives of five couples, all expecting in the widest range of possibilities. Twins, adoption, unexpected, celebrity, complicated… there’s nothing left for Expecting to cover as it tries for a catch all. It’s meant to draw in the widest pot of female movie consumers so they can scream about how easy to digest this material is. Expecting draws from a book with 16 million copies in print, so obviously, the slight nudge from the book isn’t coincidence.
This is the type of movie with pitch perfect dads who get together to explore their rather poor child rearing techniques, from tossing their kids off the changing table to smacking them in the head with full cans of beer. The crew includes comedic staples chosen for their ability to draw a laugh or two, including Chris Rock who is nothing if not wasted in this role. The only winner is Dennis Quaid, over playing it as a superior NASCAR driver with more money than sense, treating the material with a virtual smirk no matter the scene.
Everything else is dreadful, from the modern comedy staple of a internet video going viral (and inevitably auto tuned) to those flourishes of dramatic sorrow. This feature has the warring couple standing in a record setting rain storm to argue instead of moving three feet to the covered porch. And to think these people were set to breed.
No one here is detestable, a bright slate of notable actresses forging ahead on sour material, enough for someone to know what it feels like to be in their position. Cameron Diaz, Elizabeth Banks, and Anna Kendrick have their moments, while Jennifer Lopez at times feels forgotten. Her conflicts surrounding her freelance work (or lack thereof) go nowhere as she flies to Ethiopia to adopt without flinching. She saved well apparently.
There’s certainly the sense Lionsgate wanted a little Valentine’s Day vibe, the narrative collapsing into closure as it turns out this entire cast is somehow connected to one another. It doesn’t matter how tenuous that link may be so much as it does that everyone knows one another. That must be a requirement for these ensemble flicks these days.
The back half of Expecting shows the entire piece doesn’t have to veer towards abysmal status, but that it can be a presenter of strong definition plus fine detail. These elements do exist, although you’ll have to wade through an hour and deal with some sad smoothing in the process.
One look at any shot of Cameron Diaz in this movie reveals an actress apparently insecure about her looks. Her face has been terribly smoothed over in any close up, and even medium shots. There’s no chance of anything getting through, and on the off occasion, a swarm of noise is crawling around her face. That’s far more distracting than anything she’s trying to hide.
Despite the other stars not being the recipient of digital age techniques, they remain lacking on a frequent basis. Clarity reserved for digital productions in this manner is here, although without anything to support the lack of grain or noise. The image doesn’t offer anything to be impressed with, just a typical layer of sharpness along with the occasional bit of saturation worth mentioning. It’s just so… normal? Words are hard to place.
When Expecting’s clean AVC encode is finally given the chance to, you know, do something, it, well, does stuff. This struggle for words isn’t a mental block so much as it is trying to decipher well shot material that doesn’t offer much in the way of information. Expecting apparently needs the interior of a hospital to do anything more than present solid, stable black levels and imperfection-free images. This one doesn’t look like a major studio production, so maybe that’s where the quandary is. It has the gloss, but no style.
Overkill time, where it feels like putting a DTS-HD 7.1 tag on this one feels misleading. Surely the bars and various parties do something in terms of those additional channels, forcing music to bleed or capturing a crowd at a concert. The thing is those elements are so minor and trapped in something without any spark, that Lionsgate’s insistence on using the format for everything can be brought into question. That is, until the next rousing action flick. Then it’s okay.
Any audio thrills come from the soundtrack, which weighs heavily during an introductory shot of the Saturday all-male baby crew that goes on far too long. Maybe an audio mixer wanted to cling to that singular moment.
In all fairness, Expecting doesn’t make any outstanding errors or cause ear-piercing pain. The balance is fine, dialogue is tight, and there are a few moments where the stereos work overtime, in tandem, to create a bouncing effect for the music. Someone cared, just without the chance to show it.
The Dudes Unscrewed is a look at the male cast, and the beginning of a thin bonus feature slate. What to Expect and the Pregnancy Bible runs through the book and its popularity (in other words, it’s a, “BUY MY BOOK” feature). A short selection of deleted scenes and some trailers are about it for this run of bonuses.