Directed by: Kirk Jones (Everybody's Fine)
Starring: Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Banks, Chace Crawford, Brooklyn Decker, Ben Falcone, Anna Kendrick, Matthew Morrison, Dennis Quaid, Chris Rock
All right, something is going on here. This is the third rom-com in a row—right on the heels of Think Like a Man and The Five-Year Engagement—involving food trucks. Enough is enough. There needs to be a moratorium on movies with food trucks—unless the food trucks are run by the Texas Chainsaw Massacre clan, or we get a variation on the rom-com “meet cute” where diners end up in an emergency room from food poisoning and romance ensues. Neither of those things happen here. More’s the pity.
What we have here is another of those movies with the mentality of an episode of Dancing with the D-List Stars, only stuffed instead with B- and C-list stars, most of whom do not dance, but are either pregnant or have had a hand (or some body part) in the pregnancies. The whole thing is “inspired by” some self-help books that one reviewer termed “classics”—thereby knocking the word “classic” down another peg on the path to meaninglessness. The theory, however, seems to be that everyone is fascinated by pregnancy and babies, and that if you amass enough people whose names can’t sell a movie on their own, the sheer quantity will do the trick. Judging by the lackluster box office on opening day, it’s better as a theory than in actual practice. Now, I don’t equate box-office success with quality, but I don’t see a movie like this having any other raison d’etre. It sure wasn’t aiming for artistry.
I admit I’m not the target audience for this movie. I don’t—for starters—find myself in tune with characters who’d tramp out into a field to watch Dirty Dancing in the open air, or anywhere else for that matter. But I have nothing against the basic idea of a romantic comedy or even a multi-storied ensemble piece. It’s just that I haven’t seen a good one in some considerable time, and this offering hasn’t changed that. Of course, if you want to talk about John Madden’s The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel—that’s another review entirely.
The film at hand is nothing but an assemblage of various characters—most of them only tenuously connected—who are somehow involved in having a baby or, in one case, adopting one. Since no one could really figure out how to connect them all, the filmmakers came up with this idea of a “daddy club” where fathers get together and wander aimlessly through a park with their offspring to kvetch about fatherhood. It’s mostly unfunny and serves no actual purpose other than giving Chris Rock something to do. Unfortunately, it didn’t bother giving Rock any material to do this with, and since his character is otherwise superfluous, it only adds to the typically overlong running time.
Dragging in a bit of seriousness with one couple, and a completely unpersuasive stab at drama in the final stretch, does nothing to keep the picture from being a featherweight confection. It’s about on par with those cute vases of flowers people send to the hospital when you have a baby—and that you won’t remember what you did with two years later. I didn’t especially mind sitting through it, but I’d never suggest anyone do it who wasn’t getting paid to do so. Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, thematic elements and language.