I Don't Know How She Does It Directed by: Douglas McGrath Cast: Sarah Jessica Parker, Pierce Brosnan, Kelsey Grammer, Olivia Munn, Christina Hendricks, Seth Meyers, Busy Philipps Running Time: 1 hr 35 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: September 16, 2011
PLOT: Kate (Parker) is trying to have it all. She's the breadwinner, has a husband, two kids and a job that is now demanding more of her time.
WHO'S IT FOR? If you are a well-off working mother, but not super rich, and have a false sense of reality, you'll find some comfort in identifying with Parker's character.
EXPECTATIONS: It's getting to the point with Parker that she can't escape her Carrie Bradshaw Sex and the City character, and I don't know if she wants to.
I Don't Know How She Does It. How does she do it? Well, a stereotype of men is that we try to solve everything. We supposedly look for answers, so allow me to partake in that stereotype. How does she do it? Barely. Kate has an amazing job, a really nice husband named Richard (Kinnear) and two adorable kids. Oh wait, she also has a full-time nanny (not live-in) who doesn't live with them. Plus, she apparently has stay-at-home mother's constantly judging her (most specifically it's Busy Philipps as Wendy Best, yup her last name is Best. Subtle, right?). Did I mention Kate makes tons of mental lists, but apparently doesn't write them down and she's a little discombobulated? This seems like a good time to talk about that.
Kate feels stress from everyone judging her. The problem is, that judging doesn't ever feel like we the audience need to care. Kate doesn't want people to know her family might occasionally eat Chips Ahoy, or that she has to buy a pie for a bake sale, instead of making one herself. Once her fantastic job needs her to travel a little bit more, she's pulled away from her family. Somehow this means tons of face to face time with Jack Abelhammer (Brosnan). This seems to sometimes cause her stress, but yet she loves her job. Clearly she's trying to have it all. Can she? Well, yes, if she'd just talk to the people in her life, it does seem like she could. Unfortunately, she's too busy juggling to talk.
I Don't Know How She Does It is supposedly talking to all of those working women out there. It really only talks to the extremely successful, well-off ones. That's tough to identify with and tough to root for. I kept thinking, "Why can't they just hire a full-time live-in nanny?" I mean, look at their house and their things. They have money. At the beginning of the film Richard isn't working much, but when he gets a great job ... well, that's when you have to SIT DOWN WITH YOUR PARTNER AND TALK! Yes, those caps mean I am getting fired up. Instead, in this film, mistakes happen because they don't have a back-up babysitter, or a meeting has to be over the Thanksgiving holiday. Richard is nice, but doesn't like lists and quietly blames Kate for not being around more. Kate throws extra drama into every situation, even with her assistant Momo (Olivia Munn). From what the audience has been told of Momo, she loves her working life and doesn't want a family anytime soon. She gets pregnant and in one 30-second conversation Kate somehow convinces Momo that raising a baby would be amazing. It feels absolutely invasion for Kate to throw out this advice, but clearly you realize the point of this movie is to cherish parenthood. Or your career. Or both.
I haven't even written about the style of the film yet. Parker narrates in much of the same way she did with "Sex and the City." There are even a few moments where the world around her freezes and she's talking directly to us. The film is cramming it down your throat that we should be able to identify with Kate, but it never feels that way. Plus, there's some documentary/interview thing being done where Momo, Wendy and Kate's friend Allison (Christina Hendricks). They're all being interviewed about Kate's life. It doesn't make any sense to include this if you aren't going to reference what the hell is going on here. Kate talks to the audience, but those three are clearly talking to an interviewer who is off camera. Even the addition of Seth Meyers, Kelsey Grammer and Jane Curtain can't breathe life into this film.
The bottom line is, parenthood is difficult. I absolutely have that assumption. If both parents need or want to work, then planning and sacrifices have to be made. That sounds simple. I know it won't be, but I Don't Know How She Does It never brings me in or illuminates this problem. If you love and want to feel sorry for
Carrie Bradshaw Sarah Jessica Parker, you might be able to appreciate this film, otherwise just avoid it.
I Don't Know How She Does It and after watching this film, I don't care how she does it.
FINAL SCORE: 2/10