What to Expect When You're Expecting is fun and forgettable in equal amounts; a drama-comedy that is easy to watch but does not go beyond skillfully negotiated plot clichés and engineered emotions. A heavyweight cast promises winning performances as five couples thrown into unexpected pregnancy with varying chemistry, situations and problems. However, that many stories around a same theme can only end up a victim of compromise with nothing ultimately achieved.
There is only a thin line that connects the five couples besides pregnancy: Glossy celebrity couple Jules (Cameron Diaz) and Evan (Mathew Morrison) both try to wear the pants in their relationship in their parallel jobs as a star. As part of her weight loss reality show, Jules stalks Gary (Ben Falcone) in the act of consuming unhealthy calories from a food truck on live television, urging him against regaining the weight he had lost through her show.
The reason for Gary's binging, however, stems from his life-long competition with his father (Dennis Quad), whose much younger and attractive wife, Skyer (Brooklyn Decker), is not only pregnant with twins, but seems to sail along her pregnancy effortlessly with the glow that Gary's wife (Elizabeth Banks) had believed in before her own pregnancy proved her wrong. The food truck belongs to Marco (Chace Crawford), who ends up with an unexpected pregnancy through a one-night stand with Rosie (Anna Kendrick).
Another couple, Holly (Jennifer Lopez), deals with her inability to conceive and to prepare for an impending adoption while her husband Alex (Rodrigo Santoro) struggles to ready himself by joining an all males daddy support group. And it is this daddy support group which offers the most heart through their jaunty acceptance of life and how you kind of have to go through the most s*** for the things that are worth it - "you don't love anyone till you wipe his ass", goes one dad's wise words.
Beyond that, however, there is not much else besides predictable problems and subsequent resolutions. Even the daddy support group goes down the same route when their object of admiration, a stud free from the clutches of family and children (Chris Rock) discovers that his girlfriend from Australia has borne his child.
That being said, Kirk Jones navigates between the stories seamlessly, ensuring a smooth flow in tempo and mood tones with the help of well-edited visual cues. The urban landscape set is lifted momentarily by breathtaking shots of South African scenery and the adoption ritual.
There was also a keen instant of hope when strains of "Home" by Edward Sharpe played in the background, which sadly fell flat amongst the other rather uninspiring soundtracks. And that is what What to Expect When You're Expecting is in essence, despite its potential to be more - a fleeting laugh that disappears upon leaving the theatre.