Heidi Murkoff's mega-bestselling mommy manual actually makes perfect sense as a vehicle for a contemporary Hollywood ensemble comedy. For an industry banked on bathroom humor, what could be more suitable than this vomit-, piss-, fart-, foreskin-, and flabby-vagina-filled tome? But for all the fear and loathing that Murkoff's bedside text engenders, its journey ends with the beginning of a new life, whereas the movie leaves you hoping for a swift end to your own. That feeling has less to do with the terrors of pregnancy than it does with the gargoyles What to Expect presents as characters—a tableau of yuppie soullessness, including Cameron Diaz's newly pregnant fitness guru, who upchucks on a reality-TV dance show; Wendy (Elizabeth Banks), a Snuggie-wearing mom wannabe who runs a shop called "Breast Choice"; and Holly (Jennifer Lopez), a children's photographer hoping to adopt despite her callous hubby's reservations. Soon we're cycling through baby bumps, sonograms, and marital meltdowns between irrational alpha gals and their resentful, ineffectual patsies. "I'm the one with the bad eggs," Lopez screams, her justifiable sorrow quickly overtaken by the implicit misogyny that the film's worldview affirms. "I'm the one who can't do the one thing that a woman is supposed to be able to do." Once the babies arrive, the film, much like the culture at large, insists that pleasure ends when parenting begins, yet also that the parenting life is the only one worth living. God forbid there could be something in between.
Diaz (in foreground) tones her baby bump.
Opens Fri., May 18 at Kirkland Parkplace and other theaters. Rated PG-13. 110 minutes.