I Don’t Know How She Does It

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Sarah Jessica Parker, Greg Kinnear, Pierce Brosnan, Olivia Munn and Christina Hendricks star in I Don’t Know How She Does It, a comedy from director Douglas McGrath (Emma, Infamous) and producer Donna Gigliotti (The Reader, Let Me In). Based on the critically acclaimed bestseller by Allison Pearson, I Don’t Know How She Does It follows a Boston-based working mother trying desperately to juggle marriage, children, and a high-stress job.

Kate Reddy (Parker) devotes her days to her job with a Boston-based financial management firm. At night she goes home to her adoring, recently-downsized architect husband Richard (Kinnear) and their two young children. It’s a non-stop balancing act, the same one that Kate’s acerbic best friend and fellow working mother Allison (Christina Hendricks) performs on a daily basis, and that Kate’s super-brainy, child-phobic young junior associate Momo (Olivia Munn) fully intends to avoid. When Kate gets handed a major new account that will require frequent trips to New York, Richard also wins the new job he’s been hoping for and both will be spreading themselves even thinner. Complicating matters is Kate’s charming new business associate Jack Abelhammer (Brosnan), who begins to prove an unexpected source of temptation.
The archetypal single gal from Sex and the City dives into family life in I Don’t Know How She Does It. Kate Reddy, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, could easily be Carrie Bradshaw’s alternate life: a rising finance analyst, Kate feels guilty for short-changing her husband (Greg Kinnear) and two children. When she gets the opportunity to work with a high-powered exec (Pierce Brosnan), the already tense family relationship gets stretched to the breaking point and Kate has to make some hard choices. I Don’t Know How She Does It is pure formula, but executed well. The entire cast (also including Christina Hendricks as a single-mom best friend, Kelsey Grammer as an overbearing boss, Seth Meyers as a sniping rival, and a scene-stealing Olivia Munn as Kate’s assistant) play their parts with skill, while Parker’s rapport with Kinnear is particularly warm and persuasive. Moreover, you have to admire the sheer chutzpah of hammering home political points about double standards in the workplace and then delivering a fairy-tale ending. Men have realized the importance of family over work in dozens upon dozens of cookie-cutter heartwarming flicks; apparently it’s time that women got the opportunity to do the same. No doubt this signifies some important cultural shift; college theses are waiting to be written about it. –Bret Fetzer
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