Everything about I Don’t Know How She Does feels slightly off. There’s the ungainly title, which sounds like something you’d find in the self-help section of a bookstore (it’s actually based on a 2002 novel). There’s the fact that Sarah Jessica Parker’s Kate Reddy works as an investment manager. (Is America ready to embrace a movie about a finance exec?) And there’s the film’s slightly dated insistence that Kate feels judged by society for not staying at home with her two adorable kids. (If anything, my stay-at-home friends feel the opposite—like society is raising its collective eyebrow at them. )
And frankly, who really wants to see a movie about somebody else’s stress? Kate has to juggle career, kids, husband, backstabbing co-workers, a constantly buzzing cell phone, last minute business travel arrangements, meddling in-laws, etc. Yeesh, with escape like that, who needs the movies?
Also, much as they can mess up SPJ’s hair and have one of her shirt-tails come adorably untucked, things aren’t really all that bad for Kate. Her husband, played by Greg Kinnear, is doting and almost endlessly patient. Her hot new client (Pierce Brosnan) takes one look at Kate singing a lullaby to her son over the phone and falls instantly in love. Her house in Boston is a bit messy, but, of course, huge and gorgeous.
Indeed, like many “chick flicks,” the film is actually a giant advertisement for the irresistibleness of its female lead. (Parker is fine in the role, but she’s basically doing Carrie Bradshaw with a couple of kids.)
Thank goodness, then, for the film's lively co-stars, particularly Olivia Munn as Kate’s humorously robotic assistant, Christina Hendricks as Kate’s supportive and randy best friend, and Busy Philipps as a judgmental (and secretly miserable) Super Mom. They’re the ones spouting the sentiment of the title—all with different subtexts.
But in the end, the question isn’t how does Kate do it, but why exactly should we care?