I Don’t Know How She Does It

16 Oct

Title: I Don’t Know How She Does It
Year: 
2011
Director: 
Douglas McGrath
Writer: Aline Brosh McKenna, based on the novel by Allison Pearson
Starring: 
Sarah Jessica Parker, Pierce Brosnan, Greg Kinnear, Busy Philipps, Olivia Munn, Christina Hendricks, Kelsey Grammer, Jessica Szohr, Seth Meyers
MPAA Rating: 
PG-13, sexual references
Runtime: 
89 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
3.7
Rotten Tomatoes: 
18%

 

Sarah Jessica Parker hasn’t really done much to shake off the Carrie Bradshaw effect that earned her an Emmy and four Golden Globes for her time on Sex and the City. She hasn’t done much because her most high-profile gigs in the 7 years since the show has ended have been the two movies that followed the show and in films like The Family Stone, Failure to Launch and Did You Hear About the Morgans? which are all films that keep her grounded in that rom-com state that don’t really get her to stretch out her acting chops and show some variety and only make us wish the seminal HBO show was still on the air. Her newest film is I Don’t Know How She Does It and it just goes to show that she’s not really in a hurry to show any kind of versatility, as this one keeps her in absolute Carrie-mode yet again and ends up being just this very flat comedy that didn’t really work at all for me.

Not to mention that this is a film that’s seemingly just horribly stuck in the past as far as the viewpoint it offers about women and that really gets you thinking that, if you’ll forgive the pun, I Don’t Know How She Does It really didn’t know what it was doing and it has Ms. Parker still trying to make fresh the qualities of the role that made her famous over a decade ago. Maybe it’s because our opinion about women and motherhood has probably changed quite a bit since 2002, when the novel that was the source material for this film was first published, or maybe it’s just because it wasn’t executed right at all, but the thing is that Kate Reddy, Ms. Parker’s character here, is someone who we don’t really get to care about at all as we get to know her story about a woman who had a great business and family life and who apparently can do it all and make it all work out perfectly.

She’s an investment analyst at a Boston firm and is also married to a well-intentioned and ambitious architect, played by Greg Kinnear, with whom she has two children, though apparently he’s having trouble landing jobs and so he’s left to do a lot of household chores while his wife’s star rises. Kate apparently can do it all, from birthday parties and school-related activities in the motherhood area to landing a huge account that will have her working closely with a British banker, played by Pierce Brosnan, on the professional area. We get all of these little moments that are very much taken out of the Sex and the City handbook in which characters address the camera to tell us that they don’t really know how she does it, characters that are actually played by people I really like such as Christina Hendricks, who’s great but underused here as a friend of Kate’s who’s a single mom, there’s also Busy Philipps as stay-at-home mom, and Olivia Munn, who totally steals every single scene she’s in, as her executive assistant. The thing that really hurts I Don’t Know How She Does It is that many times you’ll want to hear more about the struggles these other women have in their lives than about the ones Kate may have.

Another thing that really hurts the film is that it actually makes Kate’s supposedly awesome life look like the sort of existence I would pay to avoid, one that has her dealing every single second with a different thing amidst cellphones that won’t stop ringing and constant traveling back and fro to New York and then back to Boston, I really didn’t want to know how she did it because I’d never want to do it in the first place. The adaptation of the novel was done by Aline Brosh McKenna, who was responsible for the amazing adaptation of The Devil Wears Prada as well as 27 Dresses, last year’s Morning Glory (which I gave a B to) and the upcoming adaptation of We Bought a Zoo which I’m really looking forward to. But this time I don’t really know if she did such a great job at adapting a novel, she changed the location from London to Boston which is fine by me, but she also lowered the stakes of the movie, as the tone of the book was far more bold and offered a more flawed main character, all elements which would have made for a better film here.

I don’t really know what to recommend in this film other than the fact that Ms. Munn is actually pretty damn good in it and deserves better vehicles to shine in, here as Momo she plays this icy and robotic assistant hell-bent in really making it, an attitude that suffers a blow when she learns that she’s actually pregnant. She says she’ll get an abortion but then in comes Kate and kind of forces her to keep it. Now, don’t get me wrong, I know a commercial Hollywood film will never make a character have an abortion, but it would have been nice if at least there could have been a conversation about it, instead of Kate just sort of ordering Momo to keep it with a wise and motherly look on her face. I probably still don’t know how Kate did it after watching the film, but I guess part of that comes from the fact that I never really cared.

Grade: C

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