5 great movies about pregnancy

Updated: 2011-11-18 13:26


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LOS ANGELES — This is not a spoiler: Bella has Edward's baby in "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1," a human-vampire hybrid that eats her up from the inside and threatens her very life.

For most mortals, having a baby isn't that melodramatic. But a lot of movies have been made about this universally relatable subject, most of which are crammed with cliches about eating pickles and ice cream in the middle of the night and making a mad dash to the hospital for some wacky delivery-room histrionics. With the new "Twilight" movie in theaters this weekend, here are five films about pregnancy that won't make you want to run to the toilet and vomit:

— "Rosemary's Baby" (1968): Still one of the scariest movies ever and a great example of writer-director Roman Polanski's ability to evoke a mesmerizingly dark, dangerous mood. Mia Farrow projects palpable fear as a young woman who's just moved into an old New York apartment with her actor husband (John Cassavetes) and soon gets pregnant. But the father isn't exactly who she expected it would be. That Farrow is so thin, with such prominent eyes, is startling in itself. Ruth Gordon won her only Academy Award for her deeply creepy supporting performance as the couple's nosy neighbor. She's both hilarious and haunting. And if this doesn't dissuade you from wanting a baby of your own, keep reading ...

— "Away We Go" (2009): Maybe it was the hormones. I was four months' pregnant with my son when I saw this, and it repeatedly reduced me to a blubbering mess. But the story of a couple in their 30s on the brink of having their first child who travel North America searching for the best place to settle down is an honest, humorous and ultimately moving look at the prospect of a family growing from two members to three. John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph are lovely together, and while both comedians enjoy plenty of funny scenes, they also reveal an unexpected capacity for drama with effortless grace. This was also a nice change of pace for "American Beauty" director Sam Mendes; it's intimate and unadorned.

— "Knocked Up" (2007): I went kind of nuts for this movie, even though it came out more than two years before I'd have my own child, giving it four stars out of four. The Judd Apatow formula still seemed novel at this point, with its mixture of equal parts raunch and sentimentality. Yes, it's mainly about the totally mismatched Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl as they struggle with an unplanned pregnancy after a drunken one-night stand. But it's the rapid-fire buddy banter between Rogen and his pals (played by future stars Jonah Hill and Jason Segel, among others), which is chock full of hilarious pop culture references, that gives the film its infectious energy.

— "Waitress" (2007): Even without its heartbreaking back story, this charming little indie would have been irresistible. Adrienne Shelly, who wrote, directed and costarred, was killed in her Manhattan apartment just before the film's Sundance premiere; knowing her fate makes watching the movie feel even more bittersweet. Keri Russell is radiant in this rare lead role as Jenna, a small-town Southern waitress famous for making the best pies around, with inventive ingredients and names inspired by whatever is going on in her life. When she gets pregnant after a rare drunken romp with her no-good husband, she finds herself resentful of this thing that has taken up residence in her body. Russell's scenes with Nathan Fillion as her OB/GYN are like something out of a '40s screwball comedy, but the ending will leave you in tears.

— "Juno" (2007): This was a good year for movies about having babies. "Juno" made as much of a star out of Ellen Page as it did screenwriter Diablo Cody, who created not just a character but an entirely original and specific way of speaking. (Cody won an original-screenplay Oscar in the process.) Juno MacGuff is the kind of teenager we all wish we could have been: quick-witted, frighteningly intelligent beyond her years and comfortable enough in her own skin to resist those incessant high-school pressures to conform, even as her body expands with an unplanned pregnancy. Page absolutely shines here; there's a lovely openness to her face, accessibility to her demeanor, even when she's being smart-alecky and cynical.