Full disclosure: I’ve never read the infamous parenting guidebook What to Expect When You’re Expecting. I don’t know the chapter titles or what the book does or does not cover. I have no idea how many pages are in it, and I can’t tell you what it says about any number of pregnancy-related topics. I can tell you that as soon as I heard Jennifer Lopez (my queen) was going to be in the movie version I made it my personal duty to a) see the film and b) report back to you guys about it. After all, it’s kind of my job… right? I’m sure I’m not the only one reading this site who was at least a LITTLE curious about the movie.
So I asked my currently child-less, maybe Child-free BFF to go see the movie with me. I thought I would have to convince her to see a movie about being pregnant by offering to buy her many drinks while the movie was playing, but it turns out she was sold on the Lopez factor. So here’s what a parent of one thought about the movie! Please note that this will be HEAVY ON THE SPOILERS. If you don’t want stuff ruined for you… don’t read. If you’ve seen it or don’t care, read on!
I knew the movie would be heavy on the “Being a parent is the best thing the world you could ever want to be, EVER!” angle — after all, it’s a mainstream big-budget film about parenting. I feel like it’s worth acknowledging this, because in my dream world the film would have had a whole plot line about a fab Child-free guy or gal who was happy without kids, or about parents who admitted that being a parent isn’t the most interesting thing about them. Having said that, I’m going to start with the NEGATIVE parts first, and end on a happier note.
What I could have done without
- Dudes who can’t be honest with their partners: Part of the film revolves around a group of dads who all meet up at the park every Saturday and stroll with their various offspring. They spend their time talking about how one of the kids is a spaz, swearing one another to secrecy about the fact that one of them calls his son Henry while the mom insists on a French pronunciation of the name, and fist-bumping/idolizing a beefy, childless dude who spends his time working out in the middle of the park. While stuff like this wasn’t surprising, it was more than a little disappointing — it would be awesome to see a group of fathers who are happy being dads and not worried about admitting that from the get-go (i.e.: it doesn’t take nearly two hours of a movie to get them to wrap it up nicely at the end).
- Roughly forty-five minutes of the movie: considering it’s 1 hour and 50 minutes long, this means almost half of it. One plot line revolves around Dennis Quaid’s character and his twenty-seven-year-old wife who is expecting twins, and I feel very strongly that had they just left this out completely the movie as a whole would be stronger.
- Rebel Wilson‘s character: at first she was funny as the assistant at The Breast Choice Boutique, a local baby store, but then I very quickly realized we were all laughing at her, not with her. Her character is repeatedly subject to ridicule that I didn’t feel was necessary — when you’re already watching a movie about babies you know there’s any plethora of things pertaining to pregnancy that can be turned into funny stories. I don’t think we NEEDED comic relief in the form of a woman with questionable mental capacity.
What I wish had been included or changed
- At least one LGBT family: I didn’t expect the movie to include a transgender parent (because this IS Hollywood), but I thought it would have been nice to have two lesbians trying to conceive a child via IVF or two gay dads searching for a surrogate. I think the movie could have taken an easy opportunity to remind mainstream movie-viewing audiences that these families are out there and that their family-building struggles and triumphs are important, too.
- I wish the young couple hadn’t lost their baby: Chase Crawford and Anna Kendrick play two twenty-somethings who have always been into each other but never hooked up. Well, they do and — surprise! — she gets pregnant. They decide to get together For Real and try to Do This Parenting Thing, but then she experiences a miscarriage. The rest of their plot line revolves around it being hard to see each other and things like that… but a big part of me was wishing that their characters had been able to keep the baby and see if they could make it work. Who knows? Maybe they could have been an awesome family together — whether through getting married, staying together without marriage, or just being really cool, young co-parents. Of all the couples in the movie, I felt like they were the most predictable choices to not get to see their pregnancy all the way through (They’re young! They didn’t really want a kid! And so on).
What I actually liked
- The adoption scene between Jennifer Lopez, Rodrigo Santoro, and their new son, Caleb: I had mixed feelings about this entire plot line because JLo and her hubs opt to adopt a child from Ethiopia. Why the couple decided on international adoption instead of domestic isn’t addressed (which is fine, I was just curious), and they mention having first tried to adopt from Guatemala before the country temporarily closed its adoption program. Though the viewer never sees it played out, their story hints at miscarriages and rounds after round of IVF, and there’s a particularly emotional moment in which Lopez’s character admits to feeling like not being able to conceive a child is her fault. So when they get the call and find out they’re headed to Ethiopia to pick up their six-week-old son, Caleb, it’s smiles all around. They arrive in the country and board a bus with five or so other families, and this where it got Really Interesting for me. When the families get off the bus I experienced this flash of “Oh shit, modernity is totally crazy” — six families from the United States get off a bus, each carrying their brown or blue or pink car seats, and walk into an building in Ethiopia that’s on the less industrialized side. They participate in this incredibly sweet ceremony given in both Ethiopian and English, and presumably hop back on their bus and go home. It struck me how incredibly WEIRD but also SWEET and AMAZING it is that we live in a world and time where this not only happens, but happens fairly frequently. Also, I totally cried. If you’re at all a delicate emotional flower, that scene will hit you HARD.
If you’ve seen the movie, tell me: what did you dislike, what would you have liked to see, and what did you love?