Any movie that opens with Cameron Diaz tossing her cookies on the set of a Dancing with the Stars-esque reality show can’t be all bad, right? This mostly laugh-free pregnancy comedy, adapted from Heidi Murkoff’s pop-parenting best-seller, is at least a slight step up from director Kirk Jones’s last effort, the awful Robert De Niro vehicle Everybody’s Fine (2009).
Diaz plays one of five foxy ladies – the others are Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Banks, Brooklyn Decker and Anna Kendrick – who find themselves with a child on the way. (Lopez avoids the prosthetic paunch, since her character is adopting.) Their significant others react to the news with everything from glassy-eyed shock to “it’s all good” shrugs; most of what hilarity there is comes from the gents’ befuddlement with impending fatherhood. Dennis Quaid fares best as Decker’s race-car-driving, Jimmy Buffett-loving beau. His alpha-aggressive effusiveness (masking a soft heart) gives a movie populated with time-marking actors some genuine life.
The rest of this piffle, which follows each of the couples from conception to delivery, milks the worst kind of newborn-fawning sentiment (how many ways can we talk about the “miracle” of childbearing without seeming overtly religious?), inspiring eye rolls (laziest use of the Notorious B.I.G.’s “Hypnotize” ever). If What to Expect represents the best dramedy Hollywood can deliver, it’s probably time to switch to birth control.