FilmSeptember 15, 2011 at 6:31 am

I Don’t Care How She Does It

SJP should stick to Manolos over finance.

It’s commonly accepted in the world of female executives that you can only have two out of the big three: job, kids or marriage. Is it a double standard? Yes. But when two of the things are going well, by the laws of physics, one must spiral out of control.

Kate Reddy (Parker) doesn’t ascribe to this notion. At least, it doesn’t seem like she does. She works for a self–described high power investment bank in Boston, has two beautiful children she adores and a husband (Kinnear) who adores her. No one, from the young stay–at–home moms who run the bake sale at school to her chief competitor at work, knows how she does it.

But when Kate gets a huge promotion involving even more travel, which in turn takes her away from her kids and husband, things start to get a little crazy. Crazier, even, considering the attractiveness of her new boss (Brosnan).

In theory, I Don’t Know How She Does It bucks the “mommy myth” and provides a strong, can–do heroine who rewrites the rules to have it all ­— or, at least, to have everything her male counterpart could. In reality, the character of Kate doesn’t exist, but instead is a slightly more disheveled version of Sarah Jessica Parker’s Carrie Bradshaw, down to her mannerisms and inflection.

Nothing about the film comes across as original; the voice–overs and doodled to–do lists are part Ally McBeal, the attraction to her boss could come from any chick flick made in the last ten years and the feminist spirit seems to be overshadowed by Parker’s ditzy, cliched lines (which, in all fairness, can only be blamed on the screenwriter).

It’s not that the film is irredeemable — the supporting cast is surprisingly entertaining. As Kate’s young associate (who happens to be a Wharton grad), Olivia Munn delivers deadpan lines with a brilliant affectation of disgust at Kate’s mommy–moments mixed with utter disinterest. Similarly, Saturday Night Live’s Seth Meyers fully embraces the smarmy I–banker persona with a twinkle in his eye that’s annoyingly cute. It’s the main actors, though, who can’t seem to pull it together.

Perhaps if something in Kate’s life had seriously gone wrong, this film would be somewhat relatable or engaging. Instead, Kate proves that, contrary to popular belief, women can have it all (while wearing heels, to boot). It’s a nice idea, and maybe an attainable one, too. Something about the value of cuteness over substance in this film, though, makes the idea seem more undesirable than may have been intended.

Fans of Sex and the City, picture it this way: if Carrie had Big’s job, the kids and the penthouse apartment, what would her life be like?

Yeah, that’s not necessarily a movie we’d like to see either.

1.5/5 Stars
Directed by: Douglas McGrath
Starring: Sarah Jessica Parker, Greg Kinnear, Pierce Brosnan
See if you liked: Someting Borrowed (2011)
Rated R, 100 min.

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