I Don't Know How She Does It

© 2011 Ray Wong

Kate (Sarah Jessica Parker) is a happily married woman with two children. As a financial analyst, she needs to travel a lot for her job. Somehow she manages to juggle her domestic duties with her job. Her world starts to unravel when she finally gets her big break: her proposal is picked by her demanding boss (Kelsey Grammar). She's sent to New York to work with financier Jack Abelhammer (Pierce Brosnan), who happens to be a very handsome bachelor.

Kate is smitten and seduced by the fast track to success and exciting life in New York, but her heart remains with her husband Richard (Greg Kinnear) and children. However, with her new hectic schedules, she can't keep up anymore. She spends less and less time with the kids and the burden now rests on Richard, who just got a promotion, too. The couple struggles to stay together and keep the family together, but it becomes more and more impossible for them to have it all.

Sarah Jessica Parker (Sex and the City) seems to be stuck playing two types of characters: her Carrie Bradshaw alter-ego or a serious, dull dramatic role. Here, she's in her Carrie mode, altered slightly as a mother of two. While her character is ernest, her perky portrayal of Kate's awkwardness is unsettling at times; it's like watching a 45-year-old woman acting 25. Christina Hendricks (Drive) is fun and perky as Kate's best friend, but her role is trivial and obligatory. Olivia Munn (Iron Man 2) has a better role as Kate's assistant Momo, and she makes the best of it.

The men are basically window dressing in this chick flick. Greg Kinnear (Thin Ice) tries his best to play the loving, supportive and understanding husband. The problem is the character seems neutered. Even during some of the tenser and angry moments, he barely raises his voice. Pierce Brosnan (The Ghost Writer) can play the suave, handsome, sophisticated gentleman in his sleep. No surprise here. Kelsey Grammer (Fame) has a few brief scenes but not much to do. And Seth Meyers (Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist) plays the requisite slime ball with no real significance.

Based on Alison Pearson's novel and written by Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada), the screenplay takes a flawed approach: it uses way too much voice-over narration and interviews for characterization and moving the plot forward. The result is a clumsy device and makes us wonder if there's enough plot and character to sustain this story (there really isn't). I like the premise, and there are nuggets of wisdom about working mothers, women, and the inequality between the sexes.

But as a story, it just doesn't engage me. The dialogue is amusing enough, but the situations are mundane and dull, and the supporting characters have nothing to do. As a comedy, it doesn't make me laugh. In fact, the contrivance makes me cringe. The plot is predictable with almost no surprises or twists at all, and the conclusion is trite and contrived.

Douglas McGrath's (Infamous) direction is light and brisk enough, which is rather a nice fit for such a light comedy. The production is fine. There really isn't anything wrong, just not a whole lot to commend. It doesn't drag, but it also doesn't lift the film from its material.

There are chick flicks that I enjoyed, but this one panders so much to a specific demographic that it leaves me with a slightly icky feeling. I don't know how to get rid of that feeling.

Stars: Sarah Jessica Parker, Pierce Brosnan, Greg Kinnear, Christina Hendricks, Kelsey Grammer, Seth Meyers, Olivia Munn, Jane Curtin
Director: Douglas McGrath
Writers: Aline Brosh McKenna (based on Alison Pearson's novel)
Distributor: Weinstein Co.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual references and some language
Running Time: 95 minutes


Script - 6
Performance - 6
Direction - 7
Cinematography - 7
Music/Sound - 6
Editing - 7
Production - 7

Total - 6.5 out of 10.0

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