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Entries in Jennifer Lopez (2)


What to Expect When You're Expecting

If What to Expect When You’re Expecting is indicative of real life experiences for waiting parents, then childbearing must be full of clichés, caricatures and contrivances. It must be like a desperate, unfunny screenplay that thinks it’s exploring the spectrum of pregnancy possibilities when really it knows no more about the event than the characters that are going through it. This sad excuse for a film takes the miracle of childbirth and trivializes it with cheesy dialogue, over-the-top melodramatics and bad comedy. It’s not one of the worst of the year thanks to a solid cast that does as much as they can with very little, but it’s still fairly awful.

The story is comprised of individual vignettes of characters who are all, whether they like it or not, expecting a baby. First we meet famous health guru, Jules (Cameron Diaz), a current contestant on the latest celebrity dance show, who discovers she and her dance partner, Evan (Matthew Morrison), are expecting after throwing up on stage at the end of a live taping. Later we are introduced to Holly (Jennifer Lopez) and her husband Alex (Rodrigo Santoro) who are unable to have babies and are looking into adoption. Meanwhile, baby crazy Wendy (Elizabeth Banks) and her husband Gary (Ben Falcone) are so eager to raise a child that they set their phones to alert them when Wendy is ovulating. Their careful planning eventually works and Wendy soon finds herself with a baby bump. In an interesting coincidence, Gary’s dad, former racecar driver Ramsey (Dennis Quaid), and his young trophy wife Skyler (Brooklyn Decker) are also expecting. Finally, there’s a young couple, Marco (Chace Crawford) and Rosie (Anna Kendrick) who have sex just one time in the heat of the moment and find themselves facing something they aren’t ready for.

As is a problem with many movies of this type where multiple stories are juggled in a small amount of time, What to Expect When You’re Expecting is sloppy. Nearly all of the stories are rushed through, underexplored and underdeveloped and the result is a disconnected mess. Most movies will try to somehow link these stories together so it feels like there’s a reason for them to be told, but the majority of these characters never cross paths, unless you’re speaking in the literal sense in that they occasionally walk by each other, a lazy transition between already lazy stories if there ever was one. The longer this goes on, as you wait for it make a point or take an unexpected turn or, well, do anything at all, the less tolerating it becomes.

Any promising moment is ruined by its need to tell its stories quickly for the purpose of shortening the runtime (an unfortunate effect of vignette movies). For instance, when the young one time sexual offenders, Marco and Rosie, find out they’re pregnant, one would suspect them to contemplate abortion because, regardless of your stance on the issue, it’s a natural thought for scared young people who suddenly find themselves facing a responsibility they’re not sure they can handle to have. Marco does indeed allude to it by asking what Rosie’s going to do about her situation, but then it’s glossed over, almost like the question was never raised in the first place. When the movie eventually gets back to them after spending time with the other characters, their decision has been made and they’re fully devoted to having the baby. Their evolution is far too fast and strips the film of any realism.

Normally with these types of films, there are at least one or two stories that outshine the rest, but that’s not the case here. All, including the supposed-to-be-funny group of dads who support each other’s parental negligence, are bland and thinly written. The cast is game and most retain their charm—Elizabeth Banks is still affable and Anna Kendrick is as lovely as ever—but the best cast in the world couldn’t make these characters come to life. Simply put, there just isn’t much to What to Expect When You’re Expecting. I would say it’s a failure, but I’m not sure it was even trying.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting receives 1/5


The Back-up Plan

Jennifer Lopez is not a leading lady. Sure, she’s been in a couple of good movies, like Out of Sight and The Cell, but they weren’t solid films because of her. Rather she was supported by other factors, a great director and co-star in the former and wonderful art direction and a creepy story in the latter. Her true talent (or lack thereof) stumbles through in films like The Wedding Planner, Gigli and Anaconda. Her new film, The Back-up Plan, follows in their footsteps and is easily classified as one of her worst.

It begins with Zoe, played by Lopez, at a doctor’s office where she has just gotten artificially inseminated. She has gotten old and her biological clock is ticking, so she figures if she ever wants to have a family, this is her only option. On her way out the door, however, she runs into Stan, played by Alex O’Loughlin, a good looking, charming fellow who instantly falls for her. She brushes him off, but he keeps finding her and eventually his persistence pays off. After a few dates Zoe begins to fall in love with him, but with a kid on the way, the relationship starts to take off a little quicker than they both had planned.

Let’s just get this out of the way. The Back-up Plan is excruciating. It’s a tired, formulaic romantic comedy where every laugh is unintentional and the drama unfolds like a collapsing building. Not a single moment of this picture works and by the time the 45 minute mark rolls around, you’ll have already checked your watch the same number of times.

Similar to January's Leap Year, The Back-up Plan caters directly to the women in the audience and shuns the men. Perhaps it’s because of the disparity between the genders that I, as a man, am sitting here perplexed by the amount of laughter that occurred during my screening. You see, the jokes in the film are only something that women can understand or care about. They are the types of jokes that I can only assume the female variety laugh at when out on the town with each other. Of course, I’m referring to “pregnant woman eating” jokes.

What I don’t understand is why this is funny. Pregnant women are eating for two. It’s a natural function of life. These jokes are kind of like the female version of farting. Just as they will never understand why men laugh at such a stupid thing, we will always be confused as to the hilarity of pregnancy.

Maybe it’s because women see pregnancy as a joy and men see it as a forthcoming nightmare. The responsibilities that go into having a child, particularly the financial responsibilities, are scary and having the thought that you may not be able to support it can cause emotional instability. One brief, yet inauthentic, scene just over midway through explores this and is probably the best part of the film.

The rest is as cumbersome and uneven as anything to be released this year. I want to say it’s the critic in me that scoffs at the poor filmmaking and overabundance of clichés who is ultimately dismissing this movie, but I fear it may simply be my lack of understanding as a male. Will women enjoy this? I suppose so and I see no problem with that, but it still doesn’t change the contrived screenplay, lack of chemistry between the leads and the brainless gallivanting suffocating this picture. Being April, it may not be on my final list, but The Back-up Plan is setting out to carve a place as one of the worst movies of the year.

The Back-up Plan receives 0.5/5