I Don’t Know How She Does It

Movie Information

The Story: A career woman juggles the perils of work and her hectic home life. The Lowdown: Unfunny, unromantic, cliched, tiresome and generally not good.
Score:

Genre: Rom-Com
Director: Douglas McGrath (Infamous)
Starring: Sarah Jessica Parker, Pierce Brosnan, Greg Kinnear, Christina Hendricks, Olivia Munn
Rated: PG-13

Let me get it out of my system with this title just asking for a punchline—“I Don’t Know How Sarah Jessica Parker Keeps Getting Movies,” “I Don’t Know How a Talented Fellow like Douglas McGrath Got Roped Into Directing This,” and “I Don’t Know How This Screenplay Got Made in the First Place.” There. What I do know is that I Don’t Know How She Does It is a lox—and that may be an insult to smoked fish everywhere. This is the rom-com at its most virulent and trite. This is the sit-rom-com—and judging by the early figures it’s the sit-rom-com-bomb, too. The fact that it’s been out for three days and the only user review on the IMDb is a sarcastic one calling it “the best movie ever made” suggests major tankage.

What we have here is dismal—and out of date and out of touch—train wreck of a movie that wanders forlornly through a bunch of plot devices that long ago ceased being tried and true to become trite and true. Parker plays Kate, a finance executive and the current family breadwinner, who is trying to balance her work (and the perils of being a woman in a male-dominated world), life with husband Richard (Greg Kinnear) and requisite small children (Emma Rayne Lyle, Julius and Theodore Goldberg). As Ringo assured us, it don’t come easy—and it gets worse when Richard gets a job and Kate gets a shot at a time-consuming big deal. Plus, the big deal comes with spending a lot of time sexy financier Jack Abelhammer (Pierce Brosnan, whose voice is aging into James Mason territory). And, yes, Jack’s last name is a punchline in search of a joke we’ll finally get, since the script leaves no expectation unmet.

It’s all very ho and even more hum. It’s the sort of thing that might be pulled off with bright dialogue or terrifically charismatic actors. The former is nonexistent and the latter is in … well, short supply. Very short supply. The film’s “clever” idea is to have people talk to the camera—sometimes as if we were in the midst of a very bad production of Eugene O’Neill’s Strange Interlude with characters in the background freezing while one person speaks his or her thoughts. It’s not clever and it’s invariably flat. Now, the theater I saw this in could hardly be called packed, but all the same, I heard one chuckle—very late in the film—during the entire thing.

The question also arises as to just when this screenplay was written? The whole idea of sympathetic investment bankers toiling away for the good of retirees rings a little false at this point (if it ever didn’t). And then there’s the question of just when Richard’s mother, Marla (Jane Curtin), was born. Her speech about how women used to know “their place” in the scheme of things sounds pretty darn weird in 2012. That the film tries to have everyone get everything they want in the space of 90 minutes changes none of this, nor does it make it seem any less out of touch.

So, is there any possible reason to see I Don’t Know How She Does It? Well, diehard Sarah Jessica Parker completists—and presumably there are some—might feel the need, but otherwise I can see no possible reason. It may be the most mainstream movie I’ve ever seen with this many slightly out-of-focus shots, which is perhaps noteworthy. It certainly does none of the other actors any favors, and is quite the worst thing I’ve seen from director Douglas McGrath, whose terrific Infamous (2006) I re-watched just this morning to counteract this. I recommend you do the same. Rated PG-13 for sexual references throughout.

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

18 thoughts on “I Don’t Know How She Does It

  1. (Pierce Brosnan, whose voice is aging into James Mason territory).

    Quick – someone get him and George Clooney into a NORTH BY NORTHWEST remake!

    How does Christina Hendricks fare here?

  2. Ken Hanke

    No one can be said to fare all that well. She made little impression on me, but I don’t even know that I’d seen her before.

  3. No one can be said to fare all that well. She made little impression on me, but I don’t even know that I’d seen her before.

    She’s the redhead.

    And I believe she’s also in DRIVE.

  4. Ken Hanke

    I know who she was in the film. But I haven’t seen Drive yet.

  5. I haven’t seen Drive yet.

    As I have often suspected, the power of Christina Hendricks is too great for a man to take over two films in one week.

  6. Justin Souther

    And I believe she’s also in DRIVE.

    In the smallest role imaginable.

  7. Dionysis

    I can’t recall anyone saying they liked Sarah Jessica Parker. I think that even Matthew Broderick is just putting on an act. For the children, of course.

  8. Ken Hanke

    I don’t personally know anyone who likes her, but I feel they must exist. The last time I remember liking her was in Ed Wood where she had the line, “Do I really have a face like a horse?”

  9. Dionysis

    “The last time I remember liking her was in Ed Wood…”

    That’s interesting. The point where I went from puzzlement about her ‘talents’ to one of outright dislike stemmed from watching a ‘Plan 9 From Outer Space’ DVD extra that included interviews with many associated with Burton’s film, including Johnny Depp, Martin Landau and others. Among those interviewed was Ed Wood’s first wife, Norma McCarty, who commented on how rude Sarah Jessica Parker had been to her and others while researching the roles.

    As far as having a face like a horse, she probably does have a more equine look than other contenders (i.e. Julia Roberts, Lionel Richie).

  10. Ken Hanke

    Among those interviewed was Ed Wood’s first wife, Norma McCarty, who commented on how rude Sarah Jessica Parker had been to her and others while researching the roles.

    I really don’t doubt it, though why she would have dealt with McCarty is a little puzzling. Dolores Fuller — the one who dubbed her Sarah Jurassic Parker — told me that Parker simply wasn’t interested in talking to her when preparing to play Fuller on the screen. While this doesn’t make me like Parker much, I still think she was fine in the movie.

  11. Dionysis

    “…though why she would have dealt with McCarty is a little puzzling.”

    I agree; she only appeared for a couple of minutes in that section, although Dolores Fuller was given a significant amount of interview time.

  12. Jim Donato

    So no one liked her head grafted to the chihuahua in “Mars Attacks?”

  13. brebro

    “Mars Attacks” is an under-appreciated masterpiece of film magic. I couldn’t even watch them do “It’s Not Unusual” on Glee this week with a straight face. (No jokes about watching Glee and being straight, please.)

  14. Ken Hanke

    Oh, I agree with the first sentence. But I object to the parenthetical and the suggestion that anybody here would stoop to such humor.

  15. DrSerizawa

    I don’t personally know anyone who likes her, but I feel they must exist.

    That would be my older brother and his wife. They watched Sex And The City on cable religiously and saw all the movies. They are pretty nice people actually.

    Though it’s hard to believe that anyone can watch such rot I have to believe it. They keep making this crap. But I have to ask. Was IDKHSDI worse than wrestling? Not that I’ve ever seen wrestling.

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