I Don't Know How She Does It

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Laura Clifford 
I Don't Know How She Does It

Robin Clifford 

Kate Reddy (Sarah Jessica Parker) has it all - a high powered job as an investment manager, a terrific husband Richard (Greg Kinnear) and two young children, Emily (Emma Rayne Lyle) and toddler Ben (Julius & Theodore Goldberg). But despite her accomplishments, Kate is really coming apart at the seams trying to be all things to all people. Friends and colleagues don't know the half of it when they say "I Don't Know How She Does It."

Laura:
The Weinstein Company appears to be marketing this film as "Sex and the City" for marrieds-with-children, with Sarah Jessica Parker's narration heavily featured in the film's trailer, but the film is more like one of those 'fathers who never have time for their family learn what's really important in life' for mom's.  The movie, adapted from Allison Pearson's novel by "The Devil Wears Prada's" Aline Brosh McKenna and directed by Douglas McGrath ("Infamous") is altogether too nice, too neat and tidy, to really sell its message, but Sarah Jessica Parker is delightful here and there are enough relatable moments to give it a pass.

McGrath not only utilizes SJP's narration and direct camera addresses, but animated visuals (list making, in particular) and interviews with other characters.  He begins the film with a testimonial from Kate's best friend Allison Henderson (Christina Hendricks, AMC's 'Mad Men'), who tells us what a true marvel Kate is before relating that it all almost fell apart during three months last winter.  Cue flashback.

We see Kate juggling her insane work schedule with home and child care while also supporting unemployed house hubby Richard's quest to find a new position.  Allison admires the pie she bought, then 'distressed,' for the school bake sale.  She stops her boss Clark Cooper (Kelsey Grammer) dead in his tracks by answering a lateness query with the one word challenge 'mammogram.'  She has a cold, robotic assistant Momo (Olivia Munn, TV's 'Perfect Couples') valued for her extreme work ethic and a nanny Paula (Jessica Szohr, "Piranha 3D") she's afraid to criticize in fear her house of cards will come tumbling down.  The the unexpected happens.  She's chosen over office brown nose and client schmoozer extraordinaire Chris Bunce (Seth Meyers, SNL's Weekend Update) to pitch a new project to Cooper's NYC head office boss Jack Abelhammer (Pierce Brosnan).  After a couple of amusingly embarrassing encounters with the handsome, charming exec, she's fast-tracked to work with him developing her fund for presentation to company head Roger Harcourt (James Murtaugh, TV's 'Law & Order').  This will mean much more travel and Richard has just landed his own job.  Soon her mother-in-law (Jane Curtin, TV's SNL, '3rd Rock from the Sun') is blaming her absence on two year-old's Ben's speechlessness, Emily is engaging in emotional blackmail and Richard begins to wonder about her time spent with Jack.

Sarah Jessica Parker keeps this cliche afloat with her self-deprecating humor (head lice! slap dash grooming!) and ditzy charm.  She's got her own Emily Blunt stand-in in Munn who provides a good foil.  Meyers gushes oily ill will and Brosnan charms (that his character falls for Bostonian Kate where no New York woman has tempted him is one of the film's entirely too neat niceties).  And if there is a nagging underlying intimation that women really do belong at home with their young children it's overridden by the negative counterbalance of the film's 'Momsters' (the equivalent to "The New Adventures of Old Christine's" two back-stabbing blonds), Wendy Best (Busy Philipps, TV's 'Cougar Town') and Janine LoPietro (Sarah Shahi, "Crossing Over").  Best is McGrath's other go-to interviewee, dispensing vapid commentary from the exercise bike she spends her entire day on.

For a woman heralded for her amazing juggling talents, we never see Kate deal with anything so ordinary as laundry. The film equates overscheduled working motherhood with the ability to call home while working.  But "I Don't Know How She Does It" is a pleasant trifle held aloft by a game ensemble cast.

C+

Robin:
Robin did not see this film.
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