Monday, September 12, 2011

I Don't Know How She Does It

Film Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Mom Juggles Job and Family in Female Empowerment Comedy

Kate Reddy (Sarah Jessica Parker) is a high-powered, Boston investment banker whose boss (Kelsey Grammer) is ready to recommend his rising star for a big promotion. Trouble is the new position will involve longer hours and frequent overnight stays in New York, and the job has already been taking a toll on the stressed-out workaholic’s private life.
For instance, Kate’s 2 year-old son, Ben (Theodore and Julius Goldberg), has been bonding less with her than with the nanny (Jessica Szohr) who recently took the toddler for his first haircut. Meanwhile, daughter Emily (Emma Rayne Lyle) has grown so resentful of her mom’s out-of-town trips that the neglected 9 year-old has taken to giving her the silent treatment.
Even Kate’s relationship with her architect husband (Greg Kinnear) has grown increasingly strained, since more of the childcare has fallen on his shoulders, between his being downsized and his wife’s continuing to ascend the corporate ladder. Nevertheless, she decides to accept the plum assignment which will have her working very closely with Jack Abelhammer (Pierce Brosnan), a very dashing and very available widower in the company’s Manhattan office.
Thus unfolds I Don't Know How She Does It, a breezy, situation comedy directed by Oscar-nominee Douglas McGrath. Based on British novelist Allison Pearson’s best-seller of the same name, the film is rather reminiscent of Bridget Jones’ Diary, as it revolves around a series of pithy journal entries recounted by an introspective protagonist.
Here, however, Kate periodically shares her narrating duties with a coterie of support characters who are equally quick with the colorful quip or observational insight, especially her similarly-overstretched best friend, Allison (Christina Hendricks), her robotic assistant, Momo (Olivia Munn), and her infuriating adversary, Wendy (Busy Philipps), a spoiled-rotten, stay-at-home mom.
Most of the jokes reflect a cerebral look at life from a distinctly-female point-of-view. Typical is the instance when Momo warns Kate not to end a business email with “XO” because Jack might misread the notation as a romantic proposition. The advice is heeded, but the plot thickens anyway, when lonely Jack predictably begins to develop feelings for his fetching protégé.
Will Kate fend off his advances, or will the shuttling back and forth only place her marriage further in jeopardy? The answer ultimately proves far less pertinent than the question of whether women in general ought to be fretting about juggling the competing demands of family and career.
An intriguing feminist manifesto suggesting that trying to be more like a man might be a waste of a woman.

Excellent (3.5 stars)
Rated PG-13 for profanity and sexual references.
Running time: 89 minutes
Studio: The Weinstein Company

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