Northeast Times

Parker’s film is fun escapism for harried moms

(L-R) SARAH JES­SICA PARK­ER and CHRISTINA HENDRICKS star in I DON’T KNOW HOW SHE DOES IT

I Don’t Know How She Does It of­ten feels more like an ex­ten­ded Sex and the City epis­ode than a movie.

From Sarah Jes­sica Park­er’s Car­rie Brad­shaw-like voi­ceovers to her red-headed single-mom law­yer friend, it seemed a lot like Car­rie had ditched Mr. Big, mar­ried a new guy and had a couple chil­dren. Still, this work­ing-mom movie was slightly bet­ter than I ex­pec­ted, with quite a few laughs to sus­tain the brisk 90 minutes.

Based on the 2002 book by Al­lis­on Pear­son, I Don’t Know How She Does It fo­cuses on Kate Reddy (Park­er), a wo­man mak­ing a vali­ant at­tempt at jug­gling moth­er­hood and a high-powered ca­reer in the fin­an­cial sec­tor. In­stead of sleep­ing, Kate makes men­tal to-do lists.

Kate goes out of town on busi­ness so of­ten that she has re­cently missed her tod­dler son’s first hair­cut, and she goes to great lengths to pass off a store-bought pie as homemade. Kate’s hus­band Richard (Greg Kin­near) is home more of­ten, but things are start­ing to pick up on his job as well.

Pierce Brosnan plays Jack Abel­ham­mer (stay tuned for the end cred­its for a funny in­ap­pro­pri­ate joke here), a cli­ent whom Kate has scored for her firm, thanks to her fin­an­cial acu­men.

Christina Hendricks (the afore­men­tioned red­head) is Kate’s best friend Al­lis­on and her sound­ing board.

Screen­writer Aline Brosh McK­enna (The Dev­il Wears Pra­da, Morn­ing Glory) gives I Don’t Know the same sort of fun and care­free vibe as her pre­vi­ous films. It’s of­ten hard to take Kate ser­i­ously as a busi­ness­wo­man. I of­ten thought to my­self, “This flighty wo­man is a fin­an­cial geni­us?” She gets by with the help of her ace as­sist­ant/sec­ret­ary Momo (Olivia Munn), who thumbs her nose at the idea of ever hav­ing a fam­ily.

While very much a “chick flick,” I Don’t Know is not really a ro­mantic com­edy, since the lead char­ac­ter is hap­pily mar­ried and not look­ing for Mr. Right. There are some flir­ta­tious ex­changes between Kate and Jack, as they ex­change late-night e-mails and eat din­ner to­geth­er on Kate’s out-of-town busi­ness trips. Mov­ing the set­ting from Lon­don to Bo­ston took away the Brit­ish charm en­joyed by those who read the book (sadly, the Sho­pahol­ic movie did the same thing).

The movie lacks a true vil­lain, or, at the very least, someone who would make me root for Kate to come out on top in the end. Sure, there are the “Mom­sters,” (Busy Philips and Sarah Shahi), two per­fect moms who spend their time work­ing out in­stead of work­ing. There also is Chris (Seth Mey­ers), the guy at Kate’s job who is al­ways ready to swoop in and take cred­it for something she did. But none of them have enough screen time to make an im­pact.

I Don’t Know asks the age-old work­ing-moth­er ques­tion, “Can they have it all?” Of course, this is as­sum­ing “all” means a high-paid ca­reer and chil­dren who don’t spend more time with the nanny than with mommy.

For many wo­men, I Don’t Know is pure es­cap­ism — it doesn’t ex­actly mir­ror the life of the har­ried mom scrap­ing by, drop­ping off the kids at day care (who can af­ford a nanny?), won­der­ing when the next round of lay­offs are com­ing at her job.

Those moms may say, “I don’t care why she does it.” ••

Movie Grade: B-

You can reach at shorbrook@bsmphilly.com.

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