Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire
Palmer's film is that rare concert doc that isn't for established fans only.
Just what we needed. First "Friends With Kids" two months ago, about three couples who confront pregnancy, and now "What to Expect When You're Expecting," about five couples so much in synch that deliveries and an adoption occur on the same day. I'd rather see a movie about one couple, treated in some depth, than these round-robins with the editor working up a sweat to keep all the stories in the air.
"What to Expect" is a cheerful comedy with just enough dark moments to create the illusion it's really about something. It toplines Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Banks, Anna Kendrick and Brooklyn Decker as prospective mothers, and as three live births are intercut, Diaz wins the screaming contest as people shout "push! push!" at her. The girl's a trouper. Maybe we should be grateful that Lopez, in Ethiopia to meet her adoptive son, doesn't start screaming in sympathy.
But I'm being too snarky. This is a good-hearted movie with some winning performances, but it has so many characters (including a boys' club of new dads) that the plot nearly stalls with gridlock. It's clever but the stories are thin soup.
There seems to be an informal law that characters in a movie like this must have unusual and colorful occupations, to provide easy markers as we move between stories. Diaz plays Jules, a TV weight-loss guru; we meet her and boyfriend Evan (Matthew Morrison) just as they win a celebrity dance show on TV. When they're presented with a loving cup, Jules throws up into it. Gosh, maybe she's pregnant?