Sarah Jessica Parker's career no longer seems to involve acting so much as nurturing brand identity. Her latest role tries to make the logical progression from party girl to mommy. It's as if Carrie Bradshaw traded in her martini glasses for sippy cups, but got to keep a good chunk of her fabulous wardrobe.
In this adaptation of a 2002 bestseller, Sarah Jessica's working overtime to show solidarity with working moms, descending from her fairytale Manhattan penthouse to kiss up to the great unwashed masses; yet in these recessionary times, this movie is as culturally tone deaf as Ben Affleck's embarrassing white-collar layoff muddle The Company Men. Here Parker plays Kate, an investment banker married to a nice guy architect (Greg Kinnear) who, gasp, is forced to do some home remodeling jobs because times are tough. Kate is just so harried from building wealth that she doesn't have time to properly dust their tony Boston townhouse, and, dang-it-all, she wishes she had more time to spend with her toddlers, but hey, that's what nannies are for. Please, try not to weep into your lobster bisque, folks.
The upper crust problems continue when her plan for a better brand of retirement accounts is accepted, which forces her to spend more time commuting to New York to work cheek-to-cheek with ultra-suave broker Jack Abelhammer (Pierce Brosnan). Allegedly there are sparks between these two, but about the most romantic moment they muster is to go bowling in Cleveland. Really.
The lack of sexual tension is par for the course in this exceedingly mild endeavor, one that achieves a sort of pleasant commotion rather than belly laughs. The drab script is rife with more voiceover narration than a Ken Burns mini-series; Parker intones such platitudes as "Trying to be a man is a waste of a good woman." You would have thought these sort of "We a can do it ladies!" affirmations would've have gone stale with Mary Tyler Moore, yet the movie keeps pouring it on just so we know how wonderful a wife and mommy Kate is. Poor Christina Hendricks mostly sits around giving testimonials to her greatness, as the movie manages to work the title into the dialogue roughly every four pages. The likable cast is so stocked with talent that people like Seth Myers and Jane Curtin stand around in the background waiting for something funny to do. There is nothing really objectionable here; thankfully, no dirty diaper gags or projectile vomit, but that's a pretty low bar. There have surely been worse chick flicks lately (looking at you, J Lo), but for all its frantic effort, I Don't Know How She Does It becomes so listless by the end you feel tempted to put a mirror under its nose. —Corey Hall
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