Do you know what I get tired of? I'll tell you what I get tired of. I get tired of these over-30 (or over-40, or even over-50) actresses calling me up on the phone, complaining about the parts they're being offered. "They keep sending me MOOOMS!!" Nicole will whine. "When it's so OBVIOUS I am still Sexy Secret Agent material!" Or it'll be Kristen Wiig: "Do I look like a MOMM to you?! Why don't they get Catherine O'Hara?"
Sigh. Catherine O'Hara is 57 years old. The poor woman's been carrying the "funny mom" baton since the late '80s - time for her to move on to "funny mother-in-law." Jane Fonda and Candice Bergen can't be expected to handle all those roles by themselves.
Although - it's kind of a fact, besides the gay moms and Kevin's poor mother, mom movie roles have been a bit lame lately. Movie moms generally are participating in some kind of horror story in which they have to protect their child/get back their possessed child/never had a child to begin with; or they are present only as comic obstructions to the teenager or adult male saving the world in some way. Julie White, the mom in the Transformers movies? Totally underutilized.
Moms are better characters for TV anyway, motherhood being an intrinsically serial story.
Wait. Did you see that? That was a bit profound. Motherhood is by its very nature more suited to episodic storytelling? Huh. I'm rather impressed with myself.
There has been extra traffic on this frequency lately because - have you heard about the latest how-can-they-really-turn-that-into-a-movie book adaptation? UGH. Someone has taken What to Expect When You're Expecting, possibly the worst pregnancy advice book ever put on paper, and turned it into a feature film.
A feature film with the not-repulsive-at-all tagline "IT'S TOO LATE TO PULL OUT NOW." My eyes just rolled so far back into my head I think I'm seeing past lives. Jesus.
Five pretty actresses have used this movie to dip a toe into the mom role. Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Brooklyn Decker, Anna Kendrick, and Elizabeth Banks. I'll say one thing, the reviews are very funny - probably a lot funnier than the movie will be.
Given the offensiveness of this mess, I'd like to see each of these actors follow it up with a little work for the kids. They owe it to them. They owe it to all of us. So I have paired each of the 5 leading ladies of What To Expect When You Are in a Movie Nominally Based on a Pregnancy Advice Book That Is Alarmist, Punitive and Condescending with a book from the children's or young adult section that is pregnant with possibility as a family movie - a family movie that doesn't think a guy wearing a BABYBJÖRN is just the funniest, funniest thing.
Cameron Diaz. No stranger to crude humor, you might expect Cameron to try one of those movies in which a child magically acquires an adult body next. Like Big, or 13 Going on Thirty. Let's see, it's been at least 8 years since we've had one of those. But I'm going to pull on the Bad Teacher thread and cast her as the glamorous, irresponsible porcine child care provider Nanny Piggins (second book in series coming out in US July 10). Listen to Nanny:
Nanny Piggins, is it a burden to be so beautiful?
Yes, yes it is. I don’t mind that people stare at me. But when men throw themselves at my feet and beg me to marry them it can be very tiresome, particularly if I am on the way to the sweet shop and don’t wish to be delayed.
How can you tell if a cake is really good?
Eat it all very quickly. Then if there’s any doubt make another one and eat that too. Repeat this process. And eventually your cake will be delicious because you will have had so much practice.
I think I can hear Cameron Diaz say those lines.
Brooklyn Decker. I can't ever quite place Brooklyn Decker. For some reason, whenever she calls, I think she is Rod Stewart's daughter. Somehow I think I have her confused with Rachel Hunter, I guess because they were both Sports Illustrated swimsuit models. It doesn't help that in every still from this movie, she has her mouth fake-gasp-y open like Jessica Simpson. CLOSE YOUR MOUTH.
So I always try to commiserate, and pretend I remember her, but because I can't recall whether or not she has a sense of humor, I tend to recommend bitchy older sister roles to her. Those roles are kind of a safe bet - you just have to swan in, be hot, drawl out something insulting, and swan back out. Think Molly Ringwald's big sister in Pretty in Pink Sixteen Candles thank you Liz! (and bonus Brian Doyle Murray in that clip)
And because most of the YA books with snotty older sisters have already been made into movies (I suspect because they have parts for hot 20-something actresses in them), and because I'm not super sure that Brooklyn Decker is, um, much of a reader, I'm going to suggest that she pick up a short stack of Max and Ruby books. Yes, the picture books and Beginning Readers by Rosemary Wells. Some very fine people have done voice work for Nelvana cartoons - don't knock it, Decker.
Jennifer Lopez. I think J. Lo got the best out of this deal - her movie hubby is Rodrigo Santoro, one of the best of the many things I love about Love, Actually. He's the beautifully built shy-hot co-worker Laura Linney has a crush on - you know that guy! You love that guy!
J. Lo doesn't call me for advice on what to read all that often. She generally just gets Rodrigo Santoro to come over, take off his shirt, and read US Weekly aloud. When she's in a really bad mood she gets him to read The Surrendered Wife to her while she sips fiber smoothies in the pool and cackles viciously.
So I think I can slip this one by her: there's a character in Adam Rex's book The True Meaning of Smekday who is named J. Lo. J. Lo is a six-legged alien who looks like a traffic barrier, but Jennifer doesn't have to know that. They'll have to run her voice through some effects (J. Lo the Boov has a voice like "a lamb stepping on bubble wrap") but it'll be extremely amusing to hear her voice underneath it all. Plus she's like a completion guarantee - you have Jennifer Lopez on board, you can spend whatever you want.
Anna Kendrick. Ever since 8th grade, when I saw Grease in the movie theater with my best friend Vivian and both of us realized that John Travolta was waaaay too old to be playing a boy that girls our age were supposed to be swooning over, it has set my teeth on edge when I see adults playing teenagers. (It's worth looking things up sometimes: Travolta was 24, Olivia was 30, and Stockard Channing was 34.)
But let's face it, Anna Kendrick will pass for seventeen for another ten years, easy. So I'm sending her a copy of Carolyn Mackler's Vegan Virgin Valentine. I'd love to see Kendrick play Mara, the way-too-tightly-wound main character who must learn from her pot-smoking niece how to have some fun.
Elizabeth Banks. I am thinking of another character named Mara for our Avery Jessup. It takes guts, a sense of humor, a full set of sharp teeth, and some fine hair-tossing ability to pull off a wicked stepmother (think Sigourney Weaver), and I think Elizabeth Banks is more than halfway there. So let's make a movie of If I Have a Wicked Stepmother, Where's My Prince? by the funny and sharp-eyed Melissa Kantor. I don't care who plays the teenage main character, but I want Kiernan Shipka (Sally Draper) playing the kleptomaniac twin stepsisters. That kid is due some bitchy hijinks after spending so much time with January Jones.