- Courtesy of The Weinstein Company
By Leah Burgin, Senior Arts Editor
Published September 18, 2011
“I Don’t Know How She Does It” is to movies what White People Problems is to the Internet: The meme can be funny, it can be poignant, but in the end, it gets annoying. Similar to the endless Tumblr streams bemoaning how far away a computer charger is or how someone had too much food for lunch, “I Don’t Know How She Does It” focuses on the seemingly endless day-to-day “problems” in Kate Reddy’s (Sarah Jessica Parker, “Sex and the City 2”) perfectly normal life.
I Don’t Know How She Does It
At Quality 16 and Rave
The Weinstein Company
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Like most people in this world who have multiple commitments, Kate struggles to find a way to juggle the different spheres of her life, be it her fast-paced financial career, planning birthday parties for her two adorable children or finding time for romance with her equally adorable hubby Richard (Greg Kinnear, “Baby Mama”).
While the film explores these realistic issues most people have to deal with, it does so in an unrealistic way.
“I Don’t Know How She Does It” takes away the universality of balancing one’s life and makes it a feat only Kate can perform successfully. In addition to Kate bizarrely popping out of frozen scenes to address the audience with cheesy remarks on situations, the fourth wall is broken frequently and disjointedly by “Office”-esque asides. These barrages come from Kate’s babysitter Paula (Jessica Szohr, TV’s “Gossip Girl”), assistant Momo (Olivia Munn, “Iron Man 2”), best friend Allison (Christina Hendricks, TV’s “Mad Men”), work enemy Chris Bunce (Seth Meyers, TV’s “Saturday Night Live”) and rival Wendy Best (Busy Philipps, “Made of Honor”), who all gush over how unbelievable Kate is and how they can’t understand how she keeps it all together.
These asides are a poor artistic choice, as they rely on a heavy-handed approach to discuss the film’s key themes without any attempt at subtlety. They emphasize the one-dimensional nature of the supporting characters but can also be quite amusing — especially those delivered by Meyers — or impactful, like the points Hendricks’s character brings up to demonstrate the inequality of women in the workplace.
One particularly illustrative example Hendricks uses is the difference between a man and a woman leaving work to pick up a sick child — a man is hailed as a loving, caring hero of a father while a woman in the same situation is considered unorganized, disobedient and too emotional. For 20-something females who may soon enter the workplace and start a family, this is scary to think about. This comment brings into sharp relief that these are issues all working moms face, and they face them every day. Even though everyone else in the movie thinks Kate is special, she isn’t.
It’s because of the unfairness of these double standards that the relationship between Kate and her project partner Jack Abelhammer (Pierce Brosnan, “Mamma Mia!”) is so refreshing. While there is, initially, some sexual tension between the two, Kate and Jack ultimately develop a friendship — with Jack calling her Bill for who knows what reason — during their long hours spent together working on a proposal. In an uncommonly portrayed dynamic, Jack and Kate are equals, not a Good Old Boy treating a female colleague like a secretary or sex object. Their relationship doesn’t go the other way either, with Kate losing her femininity to become a “bro.”
While Kate and Jack have an enlightening friendship, their interactions can’t save the rest of the film from the trite dialogue, overused situational humor and general blandness that permeate the story’s my-life-is-hard-so-pity-and-revere-me attitude. If anything, “I Don’t Know How She Does It” really only proves one thing — Pierce Brosnan is the only human alive who can make bowling look sexy.