What To Expect With What To Expect When You’re Expecting

You get what you expect from What to Expect When You’re Expecting, a newly released film inspired by the book of the same name for expecting mothers. I have a copy myself, gift from my sister, who gave me the book during my second month. The film follows the pregnancies of four women and the adoption experience of one. Together they exhibit the broad spectrum experience by expecting mothers and fathers.

One women, the much younger wife of Dennis Quaid’s character, is born 1986, looks likes a model during her entire pregnancy, and represents women who hardly experience any of the unpleasant pregnancy symptoms, feels like carrying a baby to term is a miraculous, epiphanic experience. Couldn’t stand her.

Another one, a young woman in her early 20’s gets accidentally knocked up from a one night stand, but miscarries.

Cameron Diaz plays a fitness celebrity who manages to stay ripped and model slim while maintaining her busy career schedule for almost the entire nine months of her pregnancy with a baby fathered by her Dancing With The Stars co-star/boyfriend. Women like her scare me.

Jennifer Lopez plays the infertile woman, who we discover spent her and her husband’s 401K in unsuccessful IV procedures before finally resorting to adoption. I felt terrible for her, but not accompanied by feelings of gladness I’m not her and lucky for myself. I just felt sad for her because she wanted something so badly and wasn’t able to have it.

And last but not least, my favorite character played by Elizabeth Banks, who you may also know as Alec Baldwin’s wife in 30 Rock, plays a responsible, children’s book writer. She’s these hyper vigilant types who install ovulation calendar apps on her phone to maximize her chances of conception. Once pregnant, however, she discovers the pregnancy glow she’d heard about and expected is “bullshit” replaced with accidental urination, noxious farts, and prego bra discomfort. I most identified with her.

The film is a romantic comedy for expecting parents and has the (too) requisite scenes of slapstick comedy and scatological humor. The entire time I watched this movie and got my tears jerked out of me when I empathized with the characters, I wondered if I would have half the patience I had for the film if I weren’t pregnant. I think the doubt alone speaks to the quality and the caliber of the writing and humor.

But enough about the film.

I want to talk about the commercials before the feature.

Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World features Steve Carell and Keira Knightly, an unlikely romantic pairing. It’s an Armageddon romantic comedy, if you can believe it. A nearly 50 year old guy facing the end of time hooks up with a 27 year old Knightly character. This film is clearly appealing to the expecting fathers or fathers in the audience wondering how the chain of events led them to theater 7 yesterday to watch a film about a bunch of pregos, looking into the time sucking abyss of parenthood and loss of individuality, virility, and fun. I imagine such films sooth such individuals with false hope that it could be worse (end of the world) and better (hook up with Knightly).

This Is 40 with Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann seems to be a film about a couple trying to deal with turning 40. The wife is desparate to improve their lives, scared stiff that her life doesn’t look like the way she wants it to look at 40, and the husband who is struck dumb with trying to keep up with her demands. It’s depressing and it’s a romantic comedy.

Then there is the Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones romantic comedy which also costars Steve Carell who seems to make it into so many romantic comedies these days since he left The Office. This one’s called Hope Springs. This one seems the most promising to me because of the cast and I’m frankly delighted to Tommy Lee Jones, the quintessential ugly-handsome man on screen, in a romantic comedy playing a lead male. This one’s about a couple well past child rearing, well into what I guess is several decades of marriage, trying to rekindle the marital romance. I assume this is meant to appeal to couples of all ages, including those young couples in the audience expecting their first child and already experiencing the dreaded changes in their relationship that comes with marriage and children.

Won’t Back Down is about a single mother in the inner city who fights for her child’s education. This is the “let’s put our bourgeoisie problems into perspective” film after all the yuk yuking through the previous commercials. It’s supposed to make the middle class, prego or wannabe prego or trying to become prego audience feel guilty and then get real. What you’re supposed to think about watching a movie like this is, “It could be worse.”

And then just when you start to resent the targeted commercials at the stereotype that is you– married 30 something prego–they throw in a red herring: another dance movie (in an industry already glutted with dance movies) with slick choreography and dancers who’s lithe cut bodies and agility make you wonder if you were ever that young and vital. It’s a glittery commercial but I’m not fooled by the curve ball.

The commercials make me feel typed and predictable. I’m not completely bothered by these feelings, which surprises me. I’m not entirely happy with them either.

* * *

On the way to meet up with my friends to go see the film, I catch a glimpse of my reflection in a store glass and I almost don’t recognize myself: my thighs are enormous and I look squat, graceless. SC noted recently that I’ve adopted a little waddle to my step so I’ve been making a conscious effort to conceal it when I’m out in public. I don’t think my efforts are helping me look less pregnant. My reflection has the same effect on me as the commercials: I’m not completely bothered, which surprises me.

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