I Don't Know How She Does It
DVD Review by Kam Williams
Headline: Female Empowerment Comedy Comes to DVD
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 his nanny (Jessica Szohr). Meanwhile, 9 year-old daughter Emily (Emma Rayne Lyle) has taken to giving her mom the silent treatment.
Even Kate’s relationship with her husband (Greg Kinnear) has grown increasingly strained, since more of the childcare has fallen on his shoulders during his wife’s climb up the corporate ladder. Nevertheless, she decides to accept the plum assignment which will have her working very closely with Jack Abelhammer (Pierce Brosnan), a dashing widower stationed 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: 90 minutes
Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Blu-ray Extras: A conversation with Allison Pearson, the author of the novel on which the movie was based.