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I Don't Know How She Does It

A movie directed by Douglas McGrath

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"Trying To Be A Man Is A Waste Of A Woman"

  • Oct 4, 2011
Ever since the 70s when a decades long battle of the sexes for equality seemed to be reaching an end, women have felt the force to decide between having a successful career or raising a happy family. I Don't Know How She Does It places Kate Reddy (Sarah Jessica Parker) squarely in the middle of this debate. She has a successful career that she loves as a finance executive that constantly travels for her job. She is the breadwinner in the beginning of the film and usually loses sleep constructing lists of what she needs to do the next day. This is a true phenomena- I actually do the same thing, except I do it as I go to bed to put me to sleep and she wakes up at 4:30am to do it.
Interviews, asides, and first-person narration all help you follow along in the crazed internal world of a working mom. My favorite scene is when she gets a store bought pie and puts it in a Pyrex pie dish and sprinkles way too much powdered sugar on it to give it a homemade feel. I remembered thinking..hmm...Pyrex and powdered sugar, great idea! I usually just buy the bakery item and put it on a serving dish lol. I actually love baking but, sometimes you don't have the time. When she brings her pie in for the bake sale, she runs into the Momsters (aka the Mean Girls of the Mom world, stay at home moms that make her feel guilty for being a working mom).

My biggest complaint is the portrayal of the stay-at-home mom (SAHM). I wasn't a big fan of how they presented the Momsters or the stay at home moms- catty, petty, lazy, and spoiled. Most of the interviews with Wendy Best (Busy Phillips), head SAHM, are done while she's at the gym on a stairclimber and when asked about what her day looks like, she answers that she gets up, makes her kids breakfast, drops them off and then, gets to the gym around 7a and stays there until 2p. Though, I am sure that some SAHMs do spend a lot of their day at the gym, I didn't like that this was the sole role that they were given in this film. It made them look lazy and I felt like they didn't have a valid voice in this film- there wasn't an accurate portrayal for you to compare to Kate's life.

Christine Hendricks, who I thoroughly enjoyed as Allison Henderson, Kate's best friend and fellow working mother, brings up a great point when she talks about men vs women in the workplace. If women act aggressive like men, women are seen as bitchy. If they act like a woman, they're called emotional.

I loved how SJP portrayed the craziness and stress that comes along with choosing to be a working mom with a successful career. She wasn't always put together which made her more believable. She was constantly embarrassing herself which made her endearing. Her addiction to her Blackberry is something that we all suffer from (working mom or not) and it shows how connected we are to our jobs- 24 hours a day at the constant beck and call of our bosses/clients/work. The more connected we are to our jobs via electronic means, the less we're connected to those in front of us and there is a great scene that shows this perfectly. When her hubby starts to show his frustration with her dedication to her job, she says that she promises to make it work. This is something that a woman would say but, where's his promise to make it better or make it work?

The menfolk: Greg Kinnear plays her frustrated, struggling, father and husband that tries to get SJP to live in the moment. He does a great job with the role. Pierce Brosnan does his sexy, suave as Kate's new work partner-in-crime who of course falls for Kate but, she lets him know that she is happy with her hubby and I was happy to see that result instead of what usually happens- she cheats on hubby and then, feels like you-know-what afterwards. Kelsey Grammar does a good job as SJP's boss who she assumes is a hard-ass but, learns differently. They all did brilliantly in each of their roles as the male roles that occupy Kate's life.

Overall, I was thoroughly entertained by this film and am happy to see the question be brought to print and then, to the screen for all to see. I liked how it looked at a serious issue for women with a few laughs. Critics weren't the biggest fan of this film but, I say to go see it as an afternoon matinee, it's light enough to enjoy but, you don't need to spend the big bucks on it.

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December 26, 2011
This is a good review on a classic dilemma for women; namely, the delicate balance between work and family.
December 26, 2011
Thank you! It's a tough balance and nowadays, it's one that concerns most people.
October 04, 2011
I understand the dilemma women face in the workplace. I don't think 50 years of the womens revolution trumps 50 million years of evolution. Very well written review. It's Pierce Brosnan.
October 04, 2011
I'm not sure I understand what you mean by "50 years of the women's revolution trumps 50 million years of evolution". It is indeed Pierce Brosnan, thanks for the correction.
October 04, 2011
wow! Sam, you should be writing more movie reviews, I couldn't have done better myself with this one. That said, I have to admit I was lukewarm with this film, but you and Pandolfi had gotten my attention. I may take a chance to see this one on dvd. Man, I need to catch up again, but vacay is so relaxing right now. Thanks for the fun review!
October 04, 2011
Wow, thanks, Woo! That means a lot coming from you! Yeah, you can wait to see it on DVD. I hope you enjoy your vacation as long as possible, we'll still be here when you get back ;p Did you go anywhere or are you staycationing it?
October 04, 2011
Went out of the Bay Area, and you will know where I went after I post some QT's and reviews... :)
October 04, 2011
So mysterious ;p I'm glad that you got to get out of town and I hope you take your time and enjoy every minute of it!
More I Don't Know How She Does It reviews
review by . September 17, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         I Don’t Know How She Does It plays it safe when it comes to the subject of women balancing family life and a career, but that’s okay – it succeeds at being nothing more or less than cute, feel-good entertainment. It stars Sarah Jessica Parker as the aptly-named Kate Reddy, who juggles her job at a Boston-based financial management firm with a husband and two young children. Even in her perpetually frazzled state, she exudes such …
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Samantha ()
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