What to Expect When You're Expecting

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
What to Expect When You're Expecting Movie Poster Image
All-star cast headlines bawdy, inconsistently funny comedy.
  • PG-13
  • 2012
  • 110 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 17 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Most of the storylines promote the message that to be successful at co-parenting and relationships, couples must communicate with each other. While there are plenty of complaints about being pregnant and having a baby (as well as some sugarcoating of the joys and challenges of pregnancy), there are many discussions about the rewards of being a new parent, too.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Many of the parents-to-be are warm, embracing of their journey, honest, and eager to learn. That said, there's some stereotyping, in that dads are portrayed as worried and hesitant about fatherhood, while moms are exuberant and excited. In real life, both genders have doubts and fears.

Violence

Some loud arguments between friends, couples, and relatives. One father makes digs at his son, leading to a face-off that ends up with a golf cart in a pool.

Sex

Lots of talk about sex (or needing to have sex to make babies), but no nudity. A few make-out scenes presumably lead to sex. Brief discussions of sex positions and one sex act. Many references to body parts, including "t-ts" (a kid shouts this out) and vaginas. Kissing and flirting; a character flashes a photo of his girlfriend, who's wearing a revealing bikini top.

Language

Language includes one use of "f--k," plus frequent use of "s--t" and words like "d--k," "ass," "p---y," "bitches," "laid," slang terms for genitals, "hell," "crap," "damn," "goddamn," "oh my God," etc.

Consumerism

Plenty of both subtle and not-so-subtle name-dropping and label-flashing, including Budweiser, NASCAR, Lacoste, Apple, Fisher-Price, Univision, and the ubiquitous Mini-Cooper and Delta Airlines.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Mostly social drinking, though it tips over into drunkenness in some scenes. One character has an outdoor bar that he calls "Margaritaville," and he likes to break out the liquor, day or night.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that What to Expect When You're Expecting is a fairly funny but also formulaic ensemble comedy with little resemblance to the same-named line of pregnancy health books it was inspired by. There are plenty of references to the symptoms and complaints of pregnancy, for sure -- expect litanies about "cankles" and bladder issues and morning sickness, much of which won't appeal to teens and younger -- but the movie is mostly about the couples featured in it and their adventures in baby-making and child-rearing. Cliches run rife (dads-to-be are scared about the prospect of fatherhood; moms are pushy and overeager), as do swearing (mostly "s--t," "ass," and the like) and sexual references/humor (though there's not too much actual action).

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byArmymomof2 June 3, 2012

A Hilarious and Endearing little show perfect for an Experienced Parent or Soon-to-be-parent.

Loved the film! This time, just us adults went to see the movie. I would be comfortable taking teens, 14 yrs. old and up. There is little cursing, that I rememb... Continue reading
Adult Written byAzalya A June 21, 2017

Realistic

Except for the part that the little kid was always getting hurt and his dad was never really that much caring (which was suppose to be funny!), it was a nice an... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byBaileyKnowsBest May 20, 2012

Amazing storyline. Sweet parts. Innapropriate at times...

This movie is good, but the s word is used about 15 times, and sexual content including making out pop up in different times of the movie.
Teen, 13 years old Written byppopple May 18, 2012

greta

very good but must be of the right age and engaged

What's the story?

In WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU'RE EXPECTING, couples are about to face their biggest test yet: parenthood. Start with fitness guru Jules (Cameron Diaz) and dancer Evan (Matthew Morrison), who fall in love and get pregnant while paired on a celebrity dance competition TV show. Then there's children's store owner Wendy (Elizabeth Banks), who's hoping to have a baby soon with her husband, Gary (Ben Falcone), whose race-car driver father (Dennis Quaid) and stepmother (Brooklyn Decker), seem to be racing for the maternity ward, too. Photographer Holly (Jennifer Lopez) can't wait to adopt with her husband (Rodrigo Santoro), but he's not so sure. And then there's twentysomething food truck proprietor Rosie (Anna Kendrick), whose one-night stand with an old classmate/business rival (Chace Crawford) becomes something more. This ensemble comedy follows all of them as they navigate the labyrinth of physical and emotional challenges that are part of impending parenthood.

Is it any good?

Don't expect What to Expect to resemble the pregnancy book that inspired it, or to have an original point of view. Though it dispenses little bits of information that could be useful, health advice isn't really the point here, and rather than being surprising or refreshing, it trots out tired old tropes. The women are "pressuring" the men to start a family; the men are resisting and need coaxing (and bribing). Moms are extra-careful when they have the babies; dads will let them ramble through war zones, practically, without regard for their safety. There's an emphasis on how women feel whole after having children (as if they weren't before). And though the discomforts women experience during pregnancy are played for laughs, we've heard bladder control jokes dozens of times.

Still, What to Expect is funny in an breezy, uncomplicated way, and it owes a big thanks to its talented ensemble for that, from Banks' hilarious turn as an earnest mom-to-be (who transforms throughout the movie) with an unspoken rivalry with her too-gorgeous mother-in-law (Brooklyn Decker) to Chris Rock's supporting role as the truth-spouting leader of a daddy wolf pack. J. Lo is charming, even if her role is superficially sketched out. And though their storyline seems tacked on to appeal to younger viewers, Crawford and Kendrick are adorable. Ultimately, watching this movie is no labor, and for some viewers (those with young kids at home, perhaps, who just need to get some alone time watching an effortless film?), that may be enough.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Hollywood portrays parents. Do movies typically fall back on cliches when it comes to parenting roles? Why?

  • What is the main message that What to Expect When You're Expecting relays about pregnancy and parenting? Do you think it glamorizes them?

  • Parents, talk to your kids about how movies portray big milestones -- graduations, weddings, births -- and how those portrayals stack up against real life. Why do movies exaggerate the ups and downs of life?

Movie details

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