With a movie title like “What to Expect When You're Expecting” and a cast of five couples plus sidekicks, you might think you know what to expect from this romantic comedy.
If you envision a movie aimed primarily at women that recycles a lot of familiar jokes about being pregnant, you're not totally off the mark.
Except the jokes often get a male-viewpoint twist, and they're told fairly well.
And if you imagine one of those flicks with multiple plotlines that occasionally cross and with an awful lot of characters to juggle, you got that right.
But several actors rise above the material to actually get you to care now and then — even to put a lump in your throat. And the ones that don't are awfully nice to look at.
British director Kirk Jones has a gift for turning broad comedy into something a bit more, especially with the hilarious “Waking Ned Devine.”
Screenwriters Shauna Cross (“Whip It”) and Heather Hach (“Freak Friday”) also have decent credits on their resumes.
I most admired Elizabeth Banks (“The Hunger Games”) as proprietor of a breast-feeding store who finally, finally conceives but can't seem to locate that special glow she's heard about. In fact, she pretty much hates pregnancy. Ben Falcone is also quite good as her schlubby, devoted dentist husband.
Dennis Quaid plays Falcone's ultra-competitive dad, a race-car driver with a penchant for putting down his son and a twentysomething trophy wife (statuesque Brooklyn Decker) who finds pregnancy effortless.
Chace Crawford (“Gossip Girl”) and Anna Kendrick (“Up in the Air”) stand out as young food-truck rivals who find themselves expecting without ever having had a proper date.
Matthew Morrison (“Glee”) and Cameron Diaz are a bit tedious, but attractive, as stars of TV dance and weight-loss shows who can't stop feuding about whether to circumcise, what to name the baby — whatever.
Jennifer Lopez and Rodrigo Santoro (“300,” “Che”) are also nice to look at but even less convincing as a couple who can't conceive and go the adoption route.
He's not entirely thrilled about becoming a dad, so she sends him to a daddy play-date group led by Thomas Lennon (“Reno 911!”) and Chris Rock. Bad move. Their hero is a swinging bachelor jogger (Joe Manganiello, total eye candy for the ladies) through whom they live vicariously.
Among the bit players, Wendi McLendon-Covey (“Bridesmaids”) is a hoot as Banks' loopy co-worker who loves to crack wise.
The dialogue and plot take a few crude turns, as comedies are prone to do these days, and a dubbed line probably was needed to keep a PG-13 rating.
But it's not as fluffy or broad as it could be, full of recognizable moments for anybody who's gone through pregnancy or hung out with somebody who has. And that's a fairly sizeable audience.
What to expect? Middle-brow entertainment that basically says having a child is different for everybody, depending on your partner and where you find your life.
But you expected that, right?
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