An international bestseller now in its fourth edition, the movie's namesake has been helping expectant parents navigate their pregnancies since 1984. But what about expectant moviegoers?
To help you know what you'll encounter should you go see What to Expect When You're Expecting this weekend, I've put together the following helpful guide -- because before you buy that movie ticket, you need to know what you're getting yourself into.
A Liberal Adaptation: Considering What to Expect's source material is a pregnancy manual, it doesn't exactly offer much in the way of a movie plot. So the main similarities between the book and the movie end up being that they a) share the same name, and b) are about pregnancy. And you thought Battleship was a tenuous adaptation.
Multiple Storylines -- and Characters: To help work around that lack of a plot and hit all the pregnancy highlights from adoption to C-sections, What to Expect weaves together five different storylines about five interconnected couples. And that means an awful lot of characters to keep track of in under two hours, to say nothing of the cameos.
It's entirely natural to feel overwhelmed. Just take a deep breath, and remember them by their thinly-sketched helpful defining characteristics: Anna Kendrick's character has a food truck, Jennifer Lopez has a camera. (Bonus points go to the minor Reno 911! reunion.)
Product Placement: Movies, like babies, don't come cheap. So don't be alarmed that the characters in What to Expect seemingly eat nothing but California Pizza Kitchen, and spend an inordinate amount of time discussing Mini Coopers and Delta.
The Dudes Group: Yes, it's blatantly pandering to the male demographic, but it's also the source of the majority of the movie's laughs. Expect to ask yourself where Chris Rock has been the past few years, and to see the movie effectively stolen by a precocious accident-prone toddler.
Gross-Out Humor: Bridesmaids may have proven that guys don't have sole domain over gross-out jokes, but really, this kind of bodily humor has been a mainstay of romantic comedies involving pregnancy or kids for years. Elizabeth Banks does most of the heavy lifting (and pee jokes), but Cameron Diaz gets into the act as well. A little nausea is normal, for them, and for you.
Painfully Dumb Fights: The drama has to come from somewhere, so just about every couple finds some reason to duke it out. There's a little father/son rivalry to go with all the usual suspects -- baby names, money, circumcision -- but the clear winner goes to an early-movie argument between Kendrick and Gossip Girl's Chace Crawford about the exclusivity of serving bacon and/or cheese. Just to be safe, take along some Advil for any headaches that may result from over-vigorous eye-rolling.
Pregnancy Movies' Greatest Hits: There are a few blissful moments in What to Expect when the movie knowingly pokes fun at well-worn cliches. For the most part though, expect to see familiar jokes about hormones and cankles, glowing parents-to-be wistfully gazing at ultrasounds, and a woman changing her mind about an epidural mid-delivery. C'mon Elizabeth Banks, you've should known better. That's just Romantic Comedy Labor Scene 101.
The Takeaway: Despite the well-known ensemble cast and familiar name, don't expect much from What to Expect When You're Expecting and you'll be just fine. And whatever you do, resist the urge to scream "You did this to me!" at whoever buys the tickets.