I Don't Know How She Does It (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner16/09/2011

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 90 mins

Watchable comedy enlivened by a handful of laugh-out-loud lines and strong comic performances from both Sarah Jessica Parker and co-star Olivia Munn, but the structure doesn't work and the various directorial flourishes can't disguise the fact that nothing really happens, plot-wise.

What's it all about?
Directed by Douglas McGrath, I Don't Know How She Does It is based on the debut novel by Allison Pearson and stars Sarah Jessica Parker as Kate Reddy, a Boston career woman who seemingly has it all: a high-powered job as an investment manager, a doting husband (Greg Kinnear as Richard) and two adorable kids. However, though she loves her job, she also strongly feels the pull of wanting to be there for her children and her constant juggling act is beginning to take its toll.

Things get more complicated when Kate's proposal for a new investment fund is enthusiastically received by New York-based company boss Jack Abelhammer (Pierce Brosnan), meaning that she has to do a lot of travelling and spend even more time away from her family. And as if that wasn't bad enough, Abelhammer seems to be developing something of a crush on her ...

The Good
The performances are fine, even if everyone in the film is a little too good to be true, especially Richard, who's practically a saint, while Brosnan doesn't turn out to be quite the character you expect. Parker is surprisingly likeable and indulges in some appealingly goofy physical comedy (e.g. fighting off an attack of head-lice), while there's strong support from Christina Hendricks as her best friend Allison and a scene-stealing (actually, film-stealing) turn from Olivia Munn as her acerbic, workaholic colleague, Momo.

In addition, the dialogue is occasionally very good, with at least three laugh-out-loud lines, although having said that, the dialogue is also occasionally very bad, with lines that don't work at all.

The Bad
The film's main problem is the overly busy structure, which has both first-person narration from Kate (complete with onscreen Bridget Jones-style captioning and the occasional bit of stepping out to address the audience), interspersed with to-camera interviews with her friends and colleagues commenting on the action. This might have worked better if there was any substance to the plot, but nothing actually happens, which renders the interview structure completely meaningless.

The film is also rather preachy and smug on the joys of childbirth, though at least it stops short of delivering the obvious cop-out ending, opting instead for a slightly different, more acceptable cop-out ending.

Worth seeing?
I Don’t Know How She Does It is watchable enough, thanks to some funny lines and strong performances, but the relative lack of plot is ultimately underwhelming.

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I Don't Know How She Does It (12A)
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Content updated: 19/10/2017 00:57

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