Review: I Don't Know How She Does It

Sarah Jessica Parker stars in  I Don't Know How She Does It .
Sarah Jessica Parker stars in I Don't Know How She Does It .

(PG) **

Director: Douglas McGrath.

Cast: Sarah Jessica Parker, Greg Kinnear, Pierce Brosnan, Christina Hendricks, Olivia Munn.

IF your eyes have ever glazed over while hearing a working parent talk about their insanely busy day, this is not the movie for you.

You know the spiel: "I was up all night cooking for the kids' bake sale, then I had to get their lunches ready and I was late to work because I had to drop them at school because my partner had an early meeting and when I finally got to work I had to finish some reports and then I found out the kids have got lice...".

Working parents do an amazing job and should be applauded, but this movie is almost exactly like that little rant - while there will be many people who identify with what is happening, it doesn't make for an interesting movie.

Given that most films are either about providing the audience with an escape from reality or shining a light on an aspect of our reality, I Don't Know How She Does It strikes out on both options.

Too real to be escapist and too sitcom-ish to be realistic, the film centres on Kate Reddy (Parker) - a corporate businesswoman balancing her increasingly hectic job with her working husband and two children (with help from their nanny).

This will certainly find an audience and it does have it's strong points. SJP does role models well, bringing the same good humour and determination to this role that she did to Carrie Bradshaw in Sex And The City.

It also has some interesting things to say. Jane Curtin, as Kate's mother-in-law, suggests at one point that shared parenting makes everything everyone's problem, plus there are some nice assessments of the continuing discrimination towards working mothers - but not working fathers - in the corporate world.

Thankfully it avoids the Hollywood archetype that suggests women must give up their jobs lest they be bad mothers, although it does come mighty close to following that archaic rule. Also, the positive message the film is projecting is somewhat undone by the character of Kate's husband, played adequately by Greg Kinnear, who is so super-supportive and flawlessly understanding that he serves only one purpose in the film - to make Kate look like a stress-head bitch on occasion.

Another downside is the use of some lame tricks seen in the early days of Sex And The City - notably vox pops of side characters and having Parker talk to camera - that don't work very well here (SATC had the sense to do away with both devices before the end of its first season). They prove distracting, provide an uneven pseudo-documentary feel and ultimately appear to be tricks to pad out and spice up a slight story.

Not dramatic enough to be a drama, not comedic enough to be comedy, I Don't Know How She Does It will have its defenders - and it's subject matter is certainly worthy - but it's just not a very good movie.