Friday, September 16, 2011

I Don't Know Why You'd See This: I Don't Know How She Does It



This review originally appeared on the San Francisco Appeal.

Have you noticed that when it comes to Sarah Jessica Parker, there's a bit of a gender divide? I mean, in terms of who likes her. Women loved "Sex and the City," and plenty of them were self-identified "Carries." Meanwhile, a lot of men seem to be flummoxed by her fame and popularity, deeming her a "horse face," and questioning why someone like her would grace the covers of so many magazines. Often, they just seem downright pissed off at her. Like, "How dare someone not conventionally beautiful be pushed in front of my face every where I go?"

So, I don't think many men will be rushing out to see "I Don't Know How She Does It" this weekend. But I also can't imagine why anyone else would rush out to see it either, because it's a bad, bad movie.

SJP plays Kate Reddy, a married mother of two--a six-year old girl, and a two-year-old boy--and an investment banker with a large Boston firm. Her job requires her to travel a lot, but she has an architect husband, (Greg Kinnear), who is able to stay at home much of the time, not to mention a full-time nanny.

So, of course, she feels a tremendous amount of guilt about not being home enough.

That's the film's gimmick: That a working mother who apparently has it all really doesn't, because no matter how much time she gives to her kids and her family, they are going to complain about it, and her devotion to her job is just going to make her feel guilty about the time she isn't with them.

Now, I don't know how true that sentiment may be. I have no kids, and the toughest planning I have to do on a daily basis involves deciding what time I should take a nap if I wake up at noon. (Kidding! Figuring out where to go eat every night is a torturous decision, too!) But I have a feeling that this movie is just going to offend mothers out there who really have no choice but to work. Guilt has a harder time coming into play when NOT working would mean not feeding your kids at all.

I suppose one could look past the annoying sociological implications presented in the film if it were actually funny or entertaining. But it's not. It's full of Kate's annoying voiceovers, (which just makes one think of "Sex and the City," which was full of SJP's voiceovers, but was, for all its faults, still funny), and characters talking to the camera, like they're in some kind of documentary. (This is a conceit that "SATC" used too, in its early seasons, but wisely dropped.)

Nothing any of these talking heads says is ever funny, which is shame because both Busy Phillips, (who plays a bitchy stay-at-home powermom), and Olivia Munn, (who plays Kate's extremely up-tight and driven junior co-worker), are in the movie, and they are both very funny actresses. Every time they came on screen I just found myself praying that they'd have something funny to say. Instead their quips and "humorous" comments land with almost audible thuds.

Every comedic bit in this movie is cliched and predictable. When Kate gets two emails simultaneously from a friend and a high-powered executive, you know she's going to send her replies to the wrong people. When she scratches her head before a big meeting, you know it's going to be something more than an itch. When the name of the man she will be working closely with for the next few months is revealed to be Jack Abelhammer, you know that's not going to pass without comment.

Pierce Brosnan plays Abelhammer, and he's his usual suave, smooth, and charming self. Which makes it that much more unbelievable when he ends up falling for the frazzled and perpetually stained Kate. But that's not even the movie's biggest "You have got to be kidding me!" moment. (I'm going to give away part of the ending here, because I don't give a damn about spoiling this crap movie for anyone. So if you care about such things, spoiler alert! Stop reading now.)

Despite finding him attractive, despite having more chemistry with him than with her husband, and despite the fact that she should obviously be with a man who understands and respects the passion she has for her career, she rebuffs Jack's proclamation of love, and instead suggests he go out with her best friend. (A single mom played well by Christina Hendricks, although, again, she is given nothing to work with.)

It's not so much the rebuffing that gets me--I understand, she's devoted to her family, yadda yadda--as it is the casual suggestion that he just fuck her best friend instead. And they all go along with it!

"So, you're saying he's actually madly in love with you, but you don't want him, so he should just settle for me instead? Sounds AWESOME! Sign me up!"-- No One's Best Friend.

In the end, I couldn't help but be reminded of the 1987 flick "Baby Boom," which was about motherhood, and working, and the struggle to do both. It was also kind of offensive in its implications about job success and maternal instincts, but it was something "I Don't Know How She Does It" isn't, and that's funny. Why don't you just do yourself a favor and hook up with watch that instead.

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