Rating: 3 stars out of 5
The Stars: Sarah Jessica Parker, Pierce Brosnan, Greg Kinnear, Olivia Munn, Christina Hendricks, Busy Philipps, Kelsey Grammer, Jessica Szohr, Seth Meyers, Jane Curtin.
The Story: On the surface, Kate Reddy (Parker) is a high-flying executive who somehow manages to juggle the seemingly impossible task of a demanding job and being a devoted mother to her two children. When she’s offered the giant break of her career, Kate embraces the opportunity, only to find it increasingly difficult to maintain status quo. It doesn’t help that Chris (Meyers), her smarmy, douche-bag colleague, is eagerly waiting for her to screw up so he can jump in to replace her, and Jack (Brosnan), her newest client, is becoming a charming distraction. With the support of her lovely, self-effacing husband (Kinnear), spirited best friend, Allison (Hendricks) and workaholic assistant Momo (Munn), Kate strives to uncover that elusive middle-ground between the love for her job and family.
The Buzz: Based on Allison Pearson’s best-selling novel of the same name, I Don't Know How She Does It is directed by BAFTA and Oscar nominee Douglas McGrath (Emma, Nicholas Nickleby). The book was also lauded by American talkshow host Oprah Winfrey, who called it “the Bible for working mums”.
inSing.com thinks: While mostly formulaic but unexpectedly amusing, McGrath’s latest female-centric effort unquestionably serves as a voice for its intended demographic. The script occasionally veers into stereotypical territory, yet is peppered with quite a few generalized if realistic perceptions of moms in the workplace.
Parker essentially plays a not so chi-chi version of her Carrie Bradshaw character, although less annoying and actually slightly more emotionally accessible. As her accommodating husband, Kinnear emanates a sweet and genuine vibe.
The story generally focuses on their familial woes, and the pair bounce off each other surprisingly well, making their conflicts and dilemmas seem very organic and relatable. Despite Brosnan's James Bond pedigree and debonair flair, he somehow fails to charm like he should have.
Portraying Kate's rabidly pessimistic assistant, Munn is similarly a bit lifeless and her acting lacks the bite that might have made her character a deadpan classic. The rest of the supporting cast fare a lot better, particularly Hendricks' Allison who provides the heart of the film; being a mouth piece for the silent discrimination that working moms face and various uncomfortable truths in mockumentary style.
Instead of coming across like the whinings of a disgruntled female, Hendricks bubbly delivery makes these “accusations” seem a lot more authentic.
In spite of its obvious flaws, I Don't Know How She Does It is every working mother's soliloquy, presenting an uplifting message to those who've had to make tough career-family choices, and fight unnecessarily harder to compete on the same playing field as their male counterparts. As so aptly summed up by Kate towards the end of the movie, sometimes trying to be a man is indeed a waste of a good woman.