Less about the challenges of being a working mother than the challenges of a financier working mother who has it all, including tons of money, a house husband, nanny and then some – and gripes about the obligations of motherhood anyway – I Don’t Know How She Does It is not likely to elicit much sympathy from your basic frazzled working mom in the movie theater. Who is probably far more focused on juggling laundry, unpaid bills, and squeezing in a moment to kiss the kids goodnight, before either they or you fall fast asleep.
Not that Sarah Jessica Parker doesn’t work up a sweat doing full length feature film flustered for the duration, as she seemingly switches it up from Sex And The City mode to Sex And The Stock Exchange maternal dismay. But do we really care as much as she does in this Douglas McGrath directed dramedy, about exactly how millionaire mothers manage to breathlessly catch a flight back from a power lunch at a posh resort in Europe, to say, make it back on time to defrost the caviar at home.
SJP is Kate in I Don’t Know How She Does It, a perpetually panicked international investment banker based in Boston, and a mother of two young children. With big bucks deals to currently close at the behest of her seductive boss Jack (Pierce Brosnan, who else), Kate takes off for multiple parts unknown across the planet, while saddling her accommodating, currently unemployed architect spouse Richard (Greg Kinnear) and the nanny (Jessica Szohr) with the daily domestic chores and catastrophes.
Not that one would have a hunch about this from any ensuing pandemonium. For while Kate is endlessly frantic via remote texting, nanny and hubby are taking domestic crises in sensible stride. A source of more deep seated aggravation for Kate, is other mothers. Specifically, the stay at home ‘Momsters’ who can whip up their own pies in a flash for school bake sales while she must resort to a covert fake bake – buying one and beating it up a bit first. So to come off looking at least a little better at this motherhood thing, Kate bonds with somebody even lower on the excelling mom food chain – denigrated single mother Allison (Christina Hendricks in minimal cameo).
There’s much about this movie that doesn’t ring true, and it’s not just those snobby full time mothers not so full time after all – trimming down all day over at the local health spa while who knows what helpers are filling in for them back home. There’s also – haven’t you heard – an economic crisis and financial failures in full swing. And plenty of suspect activities going down in that same banking community. So why aren’t we hearing about any of that during Kate’s giddy ascension up the corporate investment ladder, at least between kid haircuts and school lice checkups.
But I Don’t Know How She Does It does manage to stay afloat, owing to a combination of that dependable SJP charm and the collaborative stinging wit of screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada) and Allison Pearson, the writer of the adapted 2002 chick lit bestseller. And just in case the males in the audience out there are dismissively poised to yell ‘chick flick’, this chaotic female career comedy has a punchline just for you: ‘Trying to be a man is a waste of a woman.’
I Don’t Know How She Does It: Well, actually I do. The answer is tons of money, a house husband, a full time nanny and then some.
The Weinstein Co.
2 1/2 stars