I Think I’ll Just Adopt, Thanks.

DISCLAIMER: For someone who claims to be a Chick Flick Connoisseur, I have to be honest… I was a bit naughty and chose to see The Avengers and MIB 3 before seeing What To Expect When You’re Expecting. Although I don’t regret that choice, I do regret having to wait so long in between posts because of it. My apologies!

What To Expect When You’re Expecting (2012)
Chick Flick Rating: ♥ ♥ ½ (2.5/5)
Film Rating: ★ ★ (2/5)
Boyfriend friendly: It’s an easy way to get him to quit bitching about wearing condoms.

Let me preface this review by saying that I have a serious fear of pregnancy. I blame my Dad, which I know is a weird thing to say in context, but he’s the one who had me watch Alien when I was only 5 years old. I’m not sure if it was his intent – though I wouldn’t put it past him – but all it took was that one scene where the alien rips itself out of Kane’s chest and Daddy never had to worry about his little girl ending up on 16 & Pregnant. Don’t get me wrong, I want to have kids some day… but I kind of just hope they’ll appear out of thin air because pregnancy really scares the living shit out of me. After a baby is born? I love them, they’re adorbs. While in the belly? They’re creepy naked mole-rat looking aliens. And those horrible new 3D ultrasounds that are flooding my Facebook newsfeed (despite the fact I keep reporting them as spam) aren’t helping me any.

What To Expect When You’re Expecting, based on the self-help book of the same name, follows five couples during those nine terrifying beautiful months before the baby arrives. Jules (Cameron Diaz) is a celebrity fitness guru who gets pregnant by her boyfriend, and partner on a Dancing-With-The-Stars-esque show, Evan (Matthew Morrison). Their clashing schedules are nothing compared to their clashing personalties – as they disagree on seemingly every aspect of child rearing, from name choices to the morality of circumcision. Wendy (Elizabeth Banks) is a parenting author and owner of a children’s boutique, The Breast Choice. After years of trying, Wendy and her husband Gary (Ben Falcone) finally get pregnant only to find that their “happy glow period” is marred with every side effect in the book: nausea, gas, itchiness, hemrrhoids. Not to mention that Gary’s Dad (Dennis Quaid), a highly competitive race car driver, and his young trophy wife (Brooklyn Decker) are also expecting… and they’re having twins. Photographer Holly (J. Lo) and music producer Alex (the hot Brazilian model from Love Actually) are all set and ready to adopt an Ethiopian baby… until they get the call saying that one is actually available. And finally, Rosie (Anna Kendrick) and Marco (Chace Crawford) are rival food truck chefs whose one night stand has one big consequence.

Ensemble films are always tricky because there are so many killer cast members and so little screen time. Certain films, like Love Actually, Rat Race, and even the more recent Think Like A Man, pull it off and enable the audience to feel like they have gotten a fairly even dose of each character. Other films, like He’s Just Not That Into You, Valentine’s Day, and New Year’s Eve, cut back and forth between the characters so haphazardly that the second you begin to care about one story line, you’re onto the next one. This movie fell somewhere in between. The pacing was smooth and each character had their fair share of screen time, but they didn’t necessarily make all that screen time count. Honestly, it was like for every awesome or original character/circumstance the writers slipped in, they also had to put an equally annoying or clich├ęd one. For example: Elizabeth Banks was hysterical as the anguished pregnant woman who pees her pants in public more than once, but Brooklyn Decker was completely irritating and one-dimensional as her ditzy step-mom-in-law. Surprisingly, I was not all that convinced by the performance of Jennifer Lopez (a real life mom), but was totally sold on the one by Cameron Diaz (not a real life mom). Diaz was over-the-top but entertaining as the concerned mommy-to-be who doesn’t want her baby daddy calling any of the shots (who can blame her?). On the other hand, Lopez also called all of the shots regarding her baby, but it was so melodramatic and I don’t know if her and her husband actually liked each other (but their baby shower was AWESOME). And sometimes Anna Kendrick’s role choices just baffle me. She’s such a great actress, yet she chooses to do movies like this and Twilight. Maybe she just wanted to M.O. with Chace Crawford? I guess I can’t blame her for that. BTDubs– what is up with all of these food truck chef characters? The last THREE films I’ve reviewed have had them! Is that the only trendy occupation in the world right now?

In all seriousness, the best part of the movie actually had nothing to do with the moms at all. When I first saw the WTEWYE “Dudes Group” trailer a few months back, it felt a bit off and completely catered to the wrong demographic. Now, I totally get it. Led by Chris Rock, this clueless group of dads don’t just deserve their own trailer – they deserve their own movie. (I am also happy to report that even though a lot of their humor is given away in that trailer, there are plenty of funny lines that aren’t. Yay!)

What To Expect When You’re Expecting definitely had its fair share of belly-laughing moments. There were also a ton of times that I didn’t laugh, but every single parent in the theater did… so I should probably revisit this movie at some point in the way distant future when I have children (who, of course, have all appeared out of thin air). I just wish they had decided to take a few more risks with it! Instead of the subpar storylines about an old dude and his young wife, or two food truck rivals who have a one night stand, why not try something a bit more modern like same-sex parents, a pregnant teenager, or even a man who is excited about having a child, but a woman who is the hesitant one? There wasn’t even an interracial relationship in the bunch! They paired the Brazilian dude with Jennifer Lopez! Like, come on people – how obvious is that?

Bottom line: What To Expect When You’re Expecting is pretty much exactly what you’d expect. Entertaining, sometimes laugh out loud funny, but you’re life doesn’t really change from seeing it… At least not as much as your body changes when that alien-cyclops-fetus begins forming inside of you and takes control of your entire being.

In honor of the upcoming Prometheus, which is an Alien prequel in case you didn’t know, I decided it would be fitting to mash up the audio of the Prometheus trailer with the visuals of the WTEWYE trailer. I call it: What To Expect When You’re Expecting Prometheus. Enjoy!-

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The Odds Are In Favor

The Hunger Games (2012)
Chick Flick Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ½ (4.5/5)
Film Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ (4/5)
Boyfriend friendly: So much blood and guts!

If there was a death battle amongst book-to-movie adaptations where Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games were offered as tributes, it would play out like this: The Hunger Games would wipe out the 4 Twilight movies + Harry Potter #5 within the first five minutes, stealthily take out Harry Potter #6, followed by #2, #7, #1, struggle with but ultimately defeat #8 and #4, then sneakily emerge as a dual-victor with The Prisoner of Azkaban and prove to the greedy, suit-wearing government officials in charge of The Republic of Hollywood that they don’t have to destroy every single good book that crosses their desk.

I won’t be doing Suzanne Collins any justice by trying to summarize her epic masterpiece here. But in case you have not gotten to read or see The Hunger Games (you’re missing out!), here’s the general gist: In post-apocalyptic North America, a totalitarian nation known as Panem emerges consisting of a wealthy Capitol and 12 districts. Conditions in the districts, particularly the outlying ones, are extremely oppressive where families face starvation, dangerous working conditions, and torturous punishment for disobeying the law. As punishment for a previous rebellion, in which a 13th district was obliterated, every year each district must send one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 as a tribute to participate in The Hunger Games, where they must fight to the death until a lone victor remains. The event is televised to the entire nation, where viewing is mandatory.

Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is a 16 year-old badass with a bow and arrow who lives in District 12, one of the poorer districts. After her father dies in a coal-mining accident and her mother mentally checks out, Katniss takes it upon herself to care for her younger sister Primrose by illegally hunting for food in the woods with her hottie BFF, Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth). When Prim’s name is chosen as a tribute for the 74th Hunger Games, Katniss impulsively volunteers in her place. Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), the baker’s son who once gave Katniss bread when she was on the brink of starvation, is chosen as the male tribute and Katniss is torn between her gratitude towards him and the reality that they both can’t return to District 12. Her feelings get even more confused when Peeta confesses his love for her during a televised interview before the games start. Does he actually care about her or is it all part of the plan their alcoholic mentor and former District 12 Games victor, Haymitch (Woody Harrelson), devised to present the two as star-crossed lovers in order to attract sponsors? Katniss doesn’t have much time to mull it over. Once the gong rings and the games start, there is only one thing she has time to think about: how to survive.

I would first like to thank the genius person who decided to cast a leading lady who can actually act her ass off. After suffering through Kristen I-Have-One-Emotion-On-My-Pouty-Face-At-All-Times Stewart as Bella, and getting frustrated that she made me laugh at parts that had me crying in the book, I was scared that Hollywood would ruin Katniss for me, as well. But the second I saw the first Hunger Games trailer, and had to remind myself to breathe again after watching her volunteer in Prim’s place, I knew I was in good hands. Jennifer Lawrence is Katniss. I firmly believe there is not another person who could have done it better. And it didn’t stop there. Katniss is just one of the many different and amazing characters that Collins created, and the creative team really pulled out all the stops when it came to filling those supporting roles. Elizabeth Banks as the hysterically naive Effie Trinket, Stanley Tucci as the eccentric television host of the games, Lenny Kravitz as Cinna, Katniss’s heartfelt stylist. Perhaps, the best surprise, was that I was completely blown away by Willow Shields, the 11 year-old actress who played Prim. It’s not until the second and third books that I really started to know and love Prim. But in only a short amount of screen time, Shields won my heart over. I almost couldn’t watch her tearful goodbyes to Katniss, and started to wish I could volunteer myself in Katniss’s place, in order to make Prim’s pain go away. My pansy ass would’ve been dead in minutes.

My only complaint with the entire film – and it is a pretty valid complaint – is the portrayal of Katniss and Peeta’s relationship. If you’ve read the books, you understand that it’s not just an act. Peeta is actually legitimately in love with Katniss, and has made it a priority to make sure she goes home alive. Unfortunately, that was completely lost in the movie and it came across that Peeta, like Katniss, was only acting to get gifts from sponsors. In the books, I was totally Team Peeta. But because his and Katniss’s relationship wasn’t developed enough in the movie, I became Team Gale. This was to no fault of the actors, who brought the chemistry when it was asked of them. It just wasn’t asked of them enough! They cut out so many of Peeta’s best moments: the countless times he jokingly-but-totally-seriously asks for a kiss, his biting questions about her relationship with Gale, when he covers for her with the Avox girl, and the heartbreaking realization at the end when he discovers that Katniss was acting for the games, and when she realizes that he wasn’t. Of course, I know that they couldn’t fit everything into a movie that was already 2 1/2 hours long and, for crowd-pleasing purposes, it was probably smart to lighten up the ending a bit. But then they could have at least made the beloved cave scene a bit sexier! In the book, that one scene makes their complicated feelings crystal clear to the reader. In the movie, I think it just confuses you more. And there was nothing PG-13 about it!

Besides that oversight, the movie was extremely faithful to the rest of the book and really embraced all of the little details Collins slipped in – Katniss’s braid, Cinna’s gold eyeliner, Prim’s untucked shirt, the Capitol’s eclectic way of life. There were also some moments in the movie that I actually liked more than in the book, which is a first for me. Though I liked what the Madge character symbolized, I thought cutting her out of the movie and having Prim give Katniss the mockingjay pin was more touching and meaningful. I also liked how, since we weren’t stuck in Katniss’s head, we got to see what was going on outside of the games: Gale’s reactions to the Katniss/Peeta romance, Haymitch working the floor to get sponsors, the Gamemakers putting all the booby traps of the arena into action. In the second book, we find out that President Snow (Donald Sutherland) executed the Head Gamemaker, Seneca Crane (Wes Bentley), for being outsmarted by Katniss but we never hear how he did it. At the end of the movie, we see it happen, and well – it is mother-effing-brilliant.

A big kudos to Lionsgate for defying the odds and making this one of the few book-to-movie adaptations worth watching! For the sequel I just have two requests: 1) Katniss is the “girl on fire”, so don’t be afraid to add some more heat to the Peeta/Katniss/Gale triangle! 2) Bump up the release date. I don’t think I can hold out until November 2013.

Now tell me… are you Team Gale or Team Peeta?