I DON”T KNOW HOW SHE DOES IT
By Gary Murray
Starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Greg Kinear, Pierce Brosnan and Olivia Munn
Written by Aline Brosh McKenna
Directed by Douglas McGrath
Running time 90 min
MPAA Rating Matinee
Selig Film Rating Dollar
The modern comedy comes in many shapes and forms. We get the frat house antics and gross out humor of some major Hollywood releases lumped into the latest intellectual Woody Allen comic farce. They all have a similar goal, just to make us laugh. In the latest Sarah Jessica Parker vehicle I Don’t Know How She Does It the laughs come at the expense of the modern woman who wants it all.
The film is all about Kate (Sarah Jessica Parker) a woman with two little kids, a struggling husband Richard (Greg Kinear) and a Boston job in high finance. Through testimonials to the camera, we find out that she is very respected by most everyone both in the world of work and the world of motherhood. She has a best buddy Alison (Christina Hendricks) and an assistant Momo (Olivia Munn) who are both just amazed that she can handle all of what life throws at her.
One day, a proposal she sent to NYC catches the eye of one of the company bigwig (Pierce Brosnan). He eventually wants to do the project with Kate. This adds an entire new level of difficulty in planning schedules.
The plot of I Don’t Know How She Does It is of the downward spiral of Kate as she tries to be both the perfect mother, the perfect wife and the prefect employee. Her downfall is that no one is perfect.
This film has a very paint by numbers script, with few surprises and fewer original ideas. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the motivations of the characters or how they are going to act. Nothing in the world of I Don’t Know How She Does It has any degree of freshness.
Director Douglas McGrath doesn’t have much to work with for a script but makes up with it by having a stellar cast. The film is just full of smart choices in small roles. Seth Meyers shows up as Kate’s working competition and delivers some nasty choice lines in the David Spade mode. The wonderful Jane Curtin has a small role as Kate’s mother in law and Kelsey Grammer does get a few laughs as Kate’s boss.
By far the biggest laughs in the secondary cast are gleaned by Olivia Munn. This former The Daily Show correspondent finds moment after moment to steal scenes. All of the biggest laughs of the piece are because of her impeccable comic timing.
One of the biggest problems in the film comes at the expense of the leads. Pierce Brosnan and Greg Kinear are both nice guys who get a little bit of the attentions of our lead actress but both come across more milquetoast that macho. One has to question why our Kate would be in such a quandary about these two weak men.
And there in lies the major problem with I Don’t Know How She Does It. Sarah Jessica Parker never delivers anything with her role of Kate. By the time the film ends, there is still no connection between audience and performer. The entire endeavor feels like a Woody Allen flick not done by Woody Allen. It misses the mark in making an emotion dent into the psyche.
This movie is a chick flick, a romantic comedy but without the romance. It is more of a ‘love of family’ romantic comedy and not an ‘individual to love’ romantic comedy. While it has a few good laughs here and there, it is in no way memorable. There are much better movies than I Don’t Know How She Does It but few with so few aspirations.