Marriage, kids and career; three delicate aspects of life that, when combined, must be juggled with care in order to ensure the growth and prosperity of each
“I Don’t Know How She Does It” is based on a book of the same name by Allison Pearson, and tells the story of Kate Reddy (Parker, “Sex and the City 2”), wife, mother and career-driven breadwinner for her out-of-work architect husband Richard, (Greg Kinnear, “Thin Ice”) and two children.
Kate is selected to work out the kinks in a major deal, which takes this Boston mom back and forth to New York to her firm’s parent company, and big boss Jack Abelhammer (Pierce Brosnan, “Salvation Boulevard”), creating a greater conflict between her home and professional life.
Perhaps the book is good, but the movie is ridiculously riddled with cliches that stopped being funny and intriguing decades ago. Working women are nothing new, mothers are certainly nothing new and the combination of the two hasn’t been a novelty in society for years.
Cliche characters include Kate’s nemesis, a lazy and vain stay-at-home mom Wendy (Busy Phillips, “He’s Just Not That In To You”), who delights in pointing out any imperfection in Kate’s homemaking skills and disheveled appearance; Kate’s hard-working single mother friend, Allison (Christina Hendricks, “Drive”),who is much more domestically challenged than Kate and accidentally provides unset Jello for her kid’s school bake sale; Momo (Olivia Munn, “Iron man 2”), Kate’s stony-faced, career-only, child fearing assistant; Kate’s chauvinistic, backstabbing male coworker Chris (Seth Meyers, “Spring Breakdown”) and even Kate’s unsupportive mother-in-law Marla (Jane Curtin, “I Love You, Man”) who claims that life was simpler when each gender knew its place in society.
In addition to the archaic stereotypes, viewers are treated to a main character suspiciously reminiscent of Carry Bradshaw in attitude and personality, and the movie itself is very “Sex and the City”-esque. Parker even provides voiceover narrations for Kate exactly like those done by her Carry character. Brosnan’s character, Jack, is a fairly decent Mr. Big look-alike, and along with the other “Sex and the City” similarities, makes “I Don’t Know How She Does It” feel more like a ‘Carry only’ third installment to the “Sex and the City” franchise than a completely different story.
And, while Brosnan’s portrayal of the fun, sensitive and sympathetic Jack is charming, Parker’s role as Kate is very bland. Bland as in, we, the audience, have seen this character before. There is nothing about Kate that sets her apart from nearly every other character that Parker is known for. Quirky, high-strung, emotional, hopeless romantic; all of these things can be found in both Kate and nearly every other Parker character. As an actress, she doesn’t stretch her abilities, and this is both limiting to her career, and a letdown to her fans.
The characters are as cookie cutter as they are one dimensional, and the feel of the movie is too “Sex and the City.” Combined with Parker’s predictable performance and an archaic story better told in a period piece, and “I Don’t Know How She Does It” turns out to be as overbearing and unoriginal as its title.