I Don’t Know How She Does It
Sarah Jessica Parker is back with her womanly predicaments and never-changing blonde locks. Multi-tasking mayhem! Unfortunately, this SATC-alike farce is flustered, underwritten and far more sexist than it is empowering.
Meet Kate (Parker), the Yes Woman. Nothing is too much; whether it’s jetting off to New York at a moment’s notice or throwing a birthday party for her son, she will get the job done. Questionable stains and the possibility of head lice are all in a day’s dramatics. However, when Kate and her husband Richard (Kinnear) both land big projects at work, Kate must rearrange her priorities if she wants to keep the loves in her life. So. Much. Melodrama. Sure, the situation is relatable, but as Kate becomes busier, she acts like her entire existence is spiralling out of control…she’s just friggin’ busy! Surely it’s normal to feel a little distanced from the family if you’ve got a big project on at work? In this sense, I Don’t Know How She Does It attempts to delve into the problems of modern women, yet ends up simply stating the obvious.
Alongside the not-so-hot topics IDKHSDI tries to deal with, we also uncover the sexist double standards of the workplace. Now, we all know that comedy can be used to great effect by highlighting how ridiculous accepted social norms can be, but unfortunately this wasn’t the main focus of the film – a shame, since it would have stood a chance of being a decent movie. Instead, unbearably preachy comparisons between the sexes are flung into our faces every other line. Yawn.
What with all the stereotypical one-note characters clattering through the plot, screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna might as well have stuck a label on each character. According to the film, women are either; a) dashing through life in a whirlwind of babies and paperwork, b) baby-hating Blackberry-addicted fembots or c) rich stay-at-home gym bunnies (or “momsters”… wince) with a passion for baked goods. Hmm…they’re all so darn appealing!
The directional style felt oddly nostalgic of Sex and the City, thanks to the familiar SJP narration and even typing scenes with explanatory voiceovers. Throw in the documentary style anecdotes and we have a full on Bridget Jones/Carrie Bradshaw mash-up! These are the times when Christina Hendricks bobs up to offer much needed, yet sadly sparse comedy moments. Seth Meyers also has his ironically sexist moments of hilarity. SJP offers up her usual sparkle-eyed charm and ‘I’ve just hopped out of a whimsical fairytale’ voice, resulting in the delicate mixture of endearment and annoyance. Kate’s clumsy awkwardness elicits a titter or two, but generally her embarrassing antics just appear out of character. This film needed a strong comedy role to really carrie it off (ha!) and unfortunately SJP just didn’t work.
Also, Kate’s insane scheduling means few scenes last past a couple of minutes; but as each set-piece becomes more familiar the audience is simultaneously flustered and bored. The film drags to an inevitable conclusion – some kind of compromise must be made. Kate decides that “trying to be a man is a waste of a woman” – wait, what? THAT’S the take-home message?! Choosing career opportunities over quality family time is, apparently, an exclusively male trait. In trying to overcome sexism towards women, IDK actually partakes in a lot of sexism towards men. Ironic much?