"What to Expect When You Are Expecting" is loosely based on the popular pregnancy guide by Heidi Murkoff. That means the film and book share a title and there are some pregnant women in both. Any other similarities are purely coincidental.
A group of women deal with impending motherhood in different ways. Cameron Diaz is a TV fitness guru who becomes sexually involved with her dance partner (Matthew Morrison) during a "Dancing With the Stars" type show.
Jennifer Lopez plays a woman who takes the adoption route and Anna Kendrick is a food truck chef who lets one night of passion on the hood of a car change her life.
This merry maternity band is completed by Elizabeth Banks as a woman who gets pregnant after many failed attempts.
Their stories meander and occasionally bump into one another. Director Kirk Jones is like a one-armed juggler. He can't seem to figure out how to get a scene started. And once going, he lets everything come to a crashing end. He never finds the kind of rhythm that's necessary to keep so many storylines going.
The transitions are sloppy and the characters are not appealing enough to make us long for the next update on their nine-month journeys.
To make matters worse, fathers in a support group meet,under the guidance of Chris Rock, to complain about how their lives have changed. The idiotic tone of the conversations stands out like a rash and is twice as annoying when played against the often emotional moments of the impending mommies.
The performances aren't bad. In fact, Kendrick continues to prove that she can turn a weak line into something magical. She's just needs to avoid weak roles like this one.
And Brooklyn Decker, who plays a beauty whose pregnancy is so perfect she delivers with just a small sneeze, is far more funny than this film deserves.
It might have helped if screenwriters Shauna Cross and Heather Hach had found a way to incorporate some of the structure of the book. Instead, they end up with a movie that looks like leftover bits from "She's Having a Baby," "Three Men and a Baby" and "Baby Boom."
Of course, they could have gone too far in trying to adapt the book and ended up with something like Woody Allen's "Every Thing You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Afraid To Ask."
Except for some name recognition from the millions who have read the how-to-give-birth manual, there's no reason the movie should have been based on Murkoff's book. It's just not the kind of book that makes for the basis of a solid script.
This movie's poor concept makes the 110 minutes feel like nine months.
"What to Expect When You're Expecting," rated PG-13 for language, sexual content. Stars Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Banks, Anna Kendrick, Matthew Morrison, Chris Rock. Directed by Kirk Jones. Running time: 110 minutes. Grade: C- Theaters and times for this movie | Other movie reviews
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, email@example.com or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.