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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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Monica: The circumstances of St. Monica’s life could have made her a nagging wife, a bitter daughter-in-law and a despairing parent, yet she did not give way to any of these temptations. Although she was a Christian, her parents gave her in marriage to a pagan, Patricius, who lived in her hometown of Tagaste in North Africa. Patricius had some redeeming features, but he had a violent temper and was licentious. Monica also had to bear with a cantankerous mother-in-law who lived in her home. Patricius criticized his wife because of her charity and piety, but always respected her. Monica’s prayers and example finally won her husband and mother-in-law to Christianity. Her husband died in 371, one year after his baptism. 
<p>Monica had at least three children who survived infancy. The oldest, Augustine (August 28) , is the most famous. At the time of his father’s death, Augustine was 17 and a rhetoric student in Carthage. Monica was distressed to learn that her son had accepted the Manichean heresy (all flesh is evil)  and was living an immoral life. For a while, she refused to let him eat or sleep in her house. Then one night she had a vision that assured her Augustine would return to the faith. From that time on, she stayed close to her son, praying and fasting for him. In fact, she often stayed much closer than Augustine wanted. </p><p>When he was 29, Augustine decided to go to Rome to teach rhetoric. Monica was determined to go along. One night he told his mother that he was going to the dock to say goodbye to a friend. Instead, he set sail for Rome. Monica was heartbroken when she learned of Augustine’s trick, but she still followed him. She arrived in Rome only to find that he had left for Milan. Although travel was difficult, Monica pursued him to Milan. </p><p>In Milan, Augustine came under the influence of the bishop, St. Ambrose, who also became Monica’s spiritual director. She accepted his advice in everything and had the humility to give up some practices that had become second nature to her (see Quote, below). Monica became a leader of the devout women in Milan as she had been in Tagaste. </p><p>She continued her prayers for Augustine during his years of instruction. At Easter, 387, St. Ambrose baptized Augustine and several of his friends. Soon after, his party left for Africa. Although no one else was aware of it, Monica knew her life was near the end. She told Augustine, “Son, nothing in this world now affords me delight. I do not know what there is now left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled.” She became ill shortly after and suffered severely for nine days before her death. </p><p>Almost all we know about St. Monica is in the writings of St. Augustine, especially his <i>Confessions</i>.</p> American Catholic Blog The Church really is my mother, too. She isn’t a vague maternal force for a generic collection of anonymous people. This Mother truly nurtures us—each one of us. And for those of us who are baptized Christians, the Church has actually given birth to us on a spiritual level.

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