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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

What to Expect When You're Expecting

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Matthew Morrison and Cameron Diaz star in "What to Expect When You're Expecting."
"What to Expect When You're Expecting" (Lionsgate) is a fruitless reproductive comedy that awkwardly juggles the stories of five expectant couples as they prepare for four deliveries and an Ethiopian adoption.

Director Kirk Jones' fictionalization of Heidi Murkoff's best-selling advice book veers between vulgar humor and trite sentimentality. It also showcases misguided contemporary attitudes toward sexuality, pregnancy and parenthood.

A characteristic moment: After a long spell of living together, one of the duos—to say which would be a spoiler—uses the arrival of their baby as the moment to become engaged. Well, better late than never, one supposes.

Besides the implicit message that there's nothing wrong with shacking up, Shauna Cross and Heather Hach's script reinforces the modern trope of pregnancy as a disease to be dreaded. It also plays on the Hollywood stereotype of responsibility-averse males who tremble at the prospect of fatherhood—or of any other commitment, for that matter.

Made in that man-boy mold is bohemian musician and prospective adoptive dad Alex (Rodrigo Santoro). At the behest of his photographer wife, Holly (Jennifer Lopez), Alex seeks to allay his fears of growing up by joining the so-called "Dudes Group," a circle of fathers who meet at a local park to give their babies and toddlers a stroll.

But this herd of henpecked beta males—led by comedian Chris Rock—only inflame Alex's anxieties all the more by dwelling on the horrors of domestic life.

Their complaints grate more than they amuse. So, too, do the personalities of some of the other characters, especially that of personal trainer and TV celebrity Jules (Cameron Diaz). Coarse, pushy and selfish, Jules bellows her way through bringing new life into the world after becoming accidentally pregnant by her boyfriend, professional dancer Evan (Matthew Morrison).

Despite having written a book in praise of breastfeeding, which an early scene shows her reading to a roomful of alarmed schoolchildren, lactation expert Wendy (Elizabeth Banks) finds herself equally miserable when she exchanges her romanticized notions about becoming great with child for the thing itself. We're treated to an extended discussion, and display, of all her varied woes.

Bored by the lowbrow proceedings on screen, the viewer's mind is apt to wander from images of Butterfly McQueen's Prissy in "Gone With the Wind"—she of the immortal "I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' babies!"— to wondering how soon we can get away from the subject of Wendy's swollen ankles.

The film contains errant values, including a benign view of cohabitation, out-of-wedlock pregnancy and in vitro fertilization, pervasive sexual and biological humor, some scatological humor, an implied aberrant sex act, brief rear and partial nudity, a couple of instances of profanity, at least one use of the F-word and much crude and crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is L—limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.



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John of Capistrano: It has been said the Christian saints are the world’s greatest optimists. Not blind to the existence and consequences of evil, they base their confidence on the power of Christ’s redemption. The power of conversion through Christ extends not only to sinful people but also to calamitous events. 
<p>Imagine being born in the 14th century. One-third of the population and nearly 40 percent of the clergy were wiped out by the bubonic plague. The Western Schism split the Church with two or three claimants to the Holy See at one time. England and France were at war. The city-states of Italy were constantly in conflict. No wonder that gloom dominated the spirit of the culture and the times. </p><p>John Capistrano was born in 1386. His education was thorough. His talents and success were great. When he was 26 he was made governor of Perugia. Imprisoned after a battle against the Malatestas, he resolved to change his way of life completely. At the age of 30 he entered the Franciscan novitiate and was ordained a priest four years later. </p><p>His preaching attracted great throngs at a time of religious apathy and confusion. He and 12 Franciscan brethren were received in the countries of central Europe as angels of God. They were instrumental in reviving a dying faith and devotion. </p><p>The Franciscan Order itself was in turmoil over the interpretation and observance of the Rule of St. Francis. Through John’s tireless efforts and his expertise in law, the heretical Fraticelli were suppressed and the "Spirituals" were freed from interference in their stricter observance. </p><p>He helped bring about a reunion with the Greek and Armenian Churches, unfortunately only a brief arrangement. </p><p>When the Turks captured Constantinople in 1453, he was commissioned to preach a crusade for the defense of Europe. Gaining little response in Bavaria and Austria, he decided to concentrate his efforts in Hungary. He led the army to Belgrade. Under the great General John Hunyadi, they gained an overwhelming victory, and the siege of Belgrade was lifted. Worn out by his superhuman efforts, Capistrano was an easy prey to an infection after the battle. He died October 23, 1456.</p> American Catholic Blog When we are linked by the power of prayer, we as it were, hold each other’s hand as we walk side by side along a slippery path; and thus by the bounteous disposition of charity, it comes about that the harder each one leans on the other, the more firmly we are riveted together in brotherly love. —St. Gregory the Great

 
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