If you’ve seen the commercials or trailer for I Don’t Know How She Does It, you can pretty much figure out what this movie is about and how it’s gonna go.
But in case you haven’t, the film is based on the bestselling novel by Allison Pearson, and tells the story of a couple months in the life of Kate Reddy (Sarah Jessica Parker), a successful executive at a financial management firm who is also a mother of two– whoa, a mom who also has a career? How does she juggle it all?
Well, to start she has a nanny (she calls her a babysitter, but come on, she’s always there), a wonderfully supportive husband (Greg Kinnear), and judging by her huge beautiful house, makes a very comfortable living. I’m pretty sure any single moms out there that work two jobs have made their decision at this point as to whether or not they’re seeing this one (actually, they made it before. They can’t. They work two jobs remember?) But let’s try to be objective, it’s a high-powered stressful job that requires much travel and time away from her children. Kate has to keep up with her childless career-driven co-workers as well as the stay-at-home “Momsters” who look down on her for her choice to be a working mother and not spend six hours a day at the gym and keep up with her root touch-ups. Oh the pressure. How does she do it?
Wow, this one’s tough. Okay, so. I guess..hmm. Alright, stay with me here: If you’re a fan of Sex and the City and you’ve always wondered how Carrie would have turned out if she had married Aiden, moved to Boston, and had a couple kids, I guess this would kind of be what it would be like, since Parker’s portrayal of Kate seems familiar, right down to the voiceovers and quirky hijincks. There’s also a Mr. Big type in Pierce Brosnan’s character, Jack Ablehammer (last name soley for a gag later), a new business associate in New York that Kate is required to spend lots of time working with on a huge deal. Oh yeah, New York, that’s there too.
Anyone else hear that music?
Okay, it’s really nothing like Sex and the City. Except maybe the similarity between the feeling you have leaving this movie and the feeling you had leaving Sex and the City 2 (and I’d guess Sex and the City 3, if it happens).
Damn, so I still have to toast something. I’ll throw one to Sarah Jessica Parker, who really gives it her best shot with what she’s given the same way Julia Roberts tried in the diarrhea-inducing Eat Pray Love. The rest of cast (including a tragically wasted Jane Curtin) are game as well.
Oh yeah, there’s also a pretty funny Justin Bieber joke. (My one semi-laugh in the entire film).
Before I went into this movie, I made a mental list of every working-mother cliche I could think of just to see how many it hits. Lack of sleep, stained clothing, leaving work for a sick child, purse full of toys, lullaby-singing during a meeting, yup, they’re all there. Plus, LICE! (Didn’t think of that one!) Point is, it’s nothing new. However the movie doesn’t realize that and treats it as if it is. This stuff would have been just highlarious, what, twenty, thirty years ago? Now? Not so much. For my own sanity I have to assume that the one woman at the screening I attended who laughed hysterically at Kate’s attempt to make a store-bought pie appear homemade (crush and add powdered sugar!) was a paid plant.
The film also attempts to make observations about the differences between men and women in the workplace, but it’s nothing groundbreaking. And again, it’s treated as if it were. It’s the same old “Men are looked at as heroes if they leave work to attend to a sick child, but women are looked down upon for it” kind of revelations.
The first rule of screenwriting is “Show, don’t tell.” I don’t think Alline Brosh McKenna read that rule because EVERYTHING is told. I mentioned the voiceovers earlier, there are also on-screen graphics, documentary-style interviews with the characters (who exactly is conducting these interviews?), and Kate even gets a few Zack Morris-style “time-outs.” Even email messages are narrated by the characters.
For any men that dragged by their girlfriends or wives to see this movie and agree to go on the hope that they’ll at least get to see Christina Hendricks’ amazing gigantic breasts squeezed into low-cut tops, well, I got some bad news for ya. Her cleavage is as visible as her character’s child(ren?). Which means, it’s nowhere to be seen.
But is there a plot? Do we ever find out how she does it? Very good questions.
As for the plot, Kate has to travel a lot for work and gets pretty chummy with that Jack Ablehammer guy thus placing a strain on her relationship with her husband (who by the way, also has a demanding job but handles it just fine and is loving and perfect. Maybe the movie should have been I Don’t Know How He Does It.) I don’t really understand why she has to travel to New York to meet with Ablehammer, Jack, Ablehammer every week, since there’s this thing called Skype which they even use once. There’s also a subplot about Kate’s assistant named Momo (Oliva Munn), a cold go-getter who doesn’t ever want children. Guess what happens to her? (Oops, SPOILER ALERT!!! And frankly, I’m a little concerned after hearing Momo’s story about a fish she once owned.) The biggest drama Kate has to deal with is that her daughter has apparently never built a snowman in her life. That’s about it. And of course, what little conflict there is, it’s all neatly wrapped up by end of the film.
And how she does it? Well, she doesn’t really, since a compromise must be made and a risky one at that.
Don’t bother. This film is insulting to working moms, stay-at-home moms, non-moms, moms-to-be, and humans in general. If you’re jonesing for a dated film about a workaholic mother with spit-up on her blouse gags, watch 1987’s Baby Boom instead. It’s a much more enjoyable experience and James Spader plays the slimy rival executive much better than Seth Meyers does.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: whenever someone in more or less words says “I don’t know how she does it.”
Take a Drink: whenever someone has a stupid name like Ablehammer or Momo.
Take a Drink: whenever you spot a working mom cliche.
Take a Drink: when you say to yourself “that kid got a haircut? Really?” (You will.)
Take a Drink: when you catch yourself rolling your eyes at every mention of a snowman.
Take a Drink: when you groan at the “Ablehammer” joke (You will.)