What I expected from this movie based on the trailer and posters: A lot of cringing and eye-rolls.
What I got: A few genuine chuckles, some unexpected tears and only a couple of eye-rolls (thanks to the ridiculous caricature of a pregnant woman that Brooklyn Decker had the misfortune of playing).
I was invited to attend an advance screening of the star-laden What to Expect When You’re Expecting last night. Obviously, they were trying to inject some megawatt glamour to the screening by having me attend. Also, I suspect they just needed some more butts in the theater seats. Whatever the reason, you parents out there know what ran through my mind the second I read the e-mail: Woo-hoo! A chance to see a movie in AN ACTUAL MOVIE THEATER!
But the reality rarely lives up to the fantasy. Especially now that I’m a mom.
As the clock ticked down to the moment I had to leave for the screening across town, I grew increasingly anxious. I’ve only missed a handful of bedtimes with Skylar, most of those being when I was in the hospital with Drew. It’s one of those things that would have made Pre-Kids Candy scoff, “Get a grip, woman! IT’S JUST BEDTIME.” But now…? It’s bedtime. My special time with the kids. And I knew Skylar would be upset without me there. I delayed leaving as long as I could — not unlike Skylar trying to put off going to bed — by asking Mr. Candy for glass after glass of water and running away and saying “NO!” and hiding under the table every time he suggested I leave.
“Having to hang out with her daddy isn’t the worst thing in the world that could happen to Skylar,” Mr. Candy wryly noted, as I clung to the leg of the dining table.
“FINE. I’M GOING!” I said, sticking out my tongue.
At which point, Skylar made things easier for me by smiling, “Have a good time, Mommy” and allowed me to leave guilt-free.
No! I kid!
She actually wrapped all 38 inches of her body around my legs, crying, “No! Don’t leave! I love my mommy! I want Mommy to stay here!” then proceeded to sob so hard, she couldn’t even catch her breath You know, the one-minute silent sob where all you can do is stare at your child, praying she will one day breathe again? When I finally found the strength to tear myself away, I actually slumped outside the door, listening to her cry, and considered turning around. Movie theaters are overrated, anyway, right? Floors that are sticky with only God knows what and 10,000-calorie buttered popcorn…
Wait — 10,000-CALORIE BUTTERED POPCORN. I want to go to there!
That’s how I found myself in front of a studio security guard, 10 minutes after the screening began, begging him to let me in.
“Is it just you?” the burly man asked, looking me up and down as if I were trying to sweet-talk my way into the hot new Hollywood nightclub.
“Uh… yeah,” I said, looking around at the empty space surrounding me.
“Okay then. But maybe you should just show me your ticket first, before I let you in,” he said, raising an eyebrow.
I didn’t have a ticket, only a confirmation e-mail — that, naturally, resided on my computer at home. So I stood there, red-faced, as I called Mr. Candy and talked him through where to find the e-mail and forward it to me, then waited for it to appear on my phone. E-mails usually take a second or two to transmit. This time it took much longer, of course, because the Universe was having some fun at my expense. You see what mom down there trying to steal a few hours for herself? LET’S MESS WITH HER HEAD SO SHE NEVER ATTEMPTS SUCH NONSENSE AGAIN! And when Skye caught wind that it was me on the phone, it upset her all over again. Ugh.
At least this popcorn is delicious, I thought, stuffing a handful in my mouth as I waited…and waited… for the e-mail to come through, the large security dude eying me with more and more suspicion as each minute passed. As if I were a nutball trying to sneak in there so I could streak across the theater or something. Which, c’mon, I would NEVER do. Not without a few drinks first.
By the time I got the forwarded e-mail, my face was a solid shade of brick-red and my spirit was slightly crushed, but at least I was in! Thirty minutes into the movie, but…in. The security dude also confiscated my cell phone, which filled me with even more anxiety. What if something happened to the kids and Mr. Candy needed to get in touch with me? Even worse, what if somebody “liked” my Facebook wall post about Johnny Depp’s new British accent and I couldn’t “like” their “like” right away or somebody Retweeted my Tweet and I couldn’t reply to their Retweet of my Tweet with a smiley-face Tweet to let them know I appreciated their Retweet? MY WORLD WAS FALLING APART.
But I managed to survive without my cell phone — withdrawal shakes notwithstanding — and, yes, enjoy the movie. It is as much “based” on the book as Jesus Christ Superstar is based on the Bible, but that’s probably a good thing even though there is humor in the book, such as when it suggests caffeine-loving moms replace their addiction with something else, like SCRUBBING VEGETABLES.
ALERT: I AM FINALLY GOING TO DISCUSS THE MOVIE
I don’t know if I liked the film because I was just happy to have a couple of quiet hours to myself or because I could relate to some of it or because it really was unexpectedly entertaining. Probably all of the above. However, there were genuinely touching moments in Jennifer Lopez’s adoption storyline — I enjoyed her in this role, more so than I have in years — and I believe many women can relate to Elizabeth Banks’ baby-crazy author and advocate, Wendy, who expects to love pregnancy and ends up loathing every second of it. And the movie’s takeaway of that is, that’s okay. Not every woman has to be smitten with her swollen feet and nipple hair growth. I also wouldn’t be an esteemed film critic if I didn’t mention, HOLY GAZONGAS, Cameron Diaz totally rocked her inflated pregnancy cleavage.
The only thing about the movie that stuck in my craw (well, other than the poor preschooler who is largely ignored by his dad, played by Chris Rock, and wanders off to fall down stairs, etc. in what are supposed to be great moments of comedic relief. Ha! Haaaa?): The pregnant trophy wife, Skyler (played by Brooklyn Decker, who displayed some decent comedic chops, despite the embarrassing material handed to her), who breezes through pregnancy so easily and beautifully that she gives birth in only a hot pink Victoria’s Secret bra and actually SNEEZES OUT one of her twins without so much a twinge of pain, drop of sweat, or from what they suggest, shot of epidural.
Ah, yes, the sneeze-birth! I’m sure there’s a chapter in What to Expect about that, right?
I think if we’ve learned one thing from this movie review, it’s that I don’t have much to say about the actual movie other than: not worth paying a babysitter for, but add it to your NetFlix queue when it comes out. Also, if you want an easy delivery, make sure you pack some pepper and a feather duster.
What to Expect When You’re Expecting
Hits theaters: May 18, 2012
Best watched with: low expectations; a cocktail or two; no scary security dudes in sight
Stars: Cameron Diaz; Jennifer Lopez; Elizabeth Banks; Chace Crawford; Brooklyn Decker; Ben Falcon; Anna Kendrick; Matthew Morrison; Dennis Quaid; Chris Rock