I Don’t Know How She Does It – 2011
Directed by Douglas McGrath
Starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Greg Kinnear, Pierce Brosnan, Olivia Munn, Christina Hendricks, Busy Phillips, Kelsey Grammer, Seth Meyers
Written by Aline Brosh McKenna, based on the book by Allison Pearson
There is a smooth and safe sheen to I Don’t Know How She Does It, even if the film presents itself as a state of the modern married woman with a career. We know from the first frame how this movie will end up. The important thing is not always how predictable a movie is. It is, rather, how you get there. There are several narrators in this story, but still, it has a strong, seamless message. Every voice in the story is that of a woman. Their words are plain, but laced with subtext. I feel like I am catching just a glimpse of the world my wife lives in, even if it does not take place in Boston. Just a glimpse, though.
Parker plays Kate Reddy, an interesting play on the name of the singer of “I Am Woman.” This woman is juggling a successful family life with a burgeoning financial management career. She has a good friend, Allison (Hendricks), a good co-worker (Munn), a competitive school mother counterpart (Phillips), and a competitive “A-hole” at work (Myers). At the same time she gets a career opportunity from her boss (Grammer), her husband (Kinnear) is given an equally important opportunity. This movie is not about how he works with this opportunity, though. The title does not discuss how “they” do it. Kinnear does his usual job of being the dedicated dad, who holds things together as his wife’s work success with her new associate (Brosnan) threatens to interfere with it.
The script, written by the writer of The Devil Wears Prada, Morning Glory and the recently released We Bought A Zoo, is replete with several sharp lines. The wit is biting, but not cruel, with Hendricks, Phillips and Munn splitting many of the good lines. The pacing is alternatingly comfortable and frantic, in accordance to the well-traveled plot points. Sure you’ve seen this before. It is not often this well done.
Olivia Munn and Christina Hendricks have a brilliant sense of comic timing, to add to their uncommon beauty. Munn, in particular, takes a throwaway part and makes it delightful and near brilliant. Brosnan supplies an intriguingly kind and handsome work friend. The looks between he and Parker tread perilously close to dangerous territory. A lesser film would have taken them over the line.
Parker, is as good here as I have seen her. I am not sure she will ever be considered a great actress, but she definitely resonates with people in a way that much more glamorous women do not. This is an ironic statement for the star of one of the most extravagant shows in entertainment history. She just seems more at home checking her clothes for stains than sauntering in and out of a walk in closet seeking something to show off for Mr. Big.
Just as I found more out of The Tree of Life than did my wife, …How She Does It resonated more for her than it did for me. While we both find relief in a movie that emphasizes making good choices in with regard to family life. If you like decent romantic comedies more, then this one will be for you.
(***1/2 out of *****)