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Film Review: I Don't Know How She Does It

Sep 23, 2011 12:14PM ● By Wendy Sipple

This film is an adaptation of a novel by Allison Pearson about a career driven woman who struggles to balance her home life with work life. The lead character Kate, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, is a financial manager who wins a big deal client, Jack Ablehammer played by Pierce Brosnan. Of course this puts added pressure on her husband and family as she does a ridiculous amount of traveling to put this deal together.

The subject matter of I Don’t Know How She Does It  would be something I imagine a lot of people deal with in their lives. A lot of families depend on two incomes to survive in modern times. A movie that displayed any sort of passion, emotion or intelligence on this subject would do quite well. This film, however, does none of those things well unfortunately.

Aline Brosh McKenna, the screenwriter of this mess, may have had a tolerable story but did her level best to ruin it, and succeeded beyond her wildest dreams. I have never read the novel that this movie is based upon, but the script relies almost exclusively on voice overs and shots of the characters being interviewed about what is happening in the movie. In short they tell you everything, even the obvious, instead of showing us action and letting the audience figure anything out for themselves. It felt as though the audience was being talked down to the entire movie. In addition I Don’t Know How She Does It is completely unclear about its main theme. At some points the movie speaks to the importance of being home with the family, but the very next scene it mocks stay at home moms? Ultimately nothing substantial seems to change to the main characters in the end, but the voice over tells us they’re happy, so I guess it’s a happy ending.

The characters were all caricatures, in particular the supporting characters. The actors all portrayed their roles with absolutely no subtlety at all with the exception of Pierce Brosnan and Greg Kinnear. The roles may have been written poorly but the actors displayed little effort to add anything interesting or nuanced to the characters.

The last nail in the coffin for this film is that it is completely predictable the entire way through. If the film was entertaining maybe it could have gotten away with telegraphing every scene, but it wasn’t. Of course this movie was not written for guys, but for the girls, and in particular the working mothers of the world. There are some moments that I think some working mothers would be able to relate to without a doubt. However those moments are fleeting and nothing insightful, meaningful or poignant comes from them. What little drama and emotion that are built in the film gets crushed by the grating and annoying voice over.

I Don’t Know How She Does It is a good example of how bad writing ruins what may have been a decent story. After a summer packed with several high quality films aimed at women, this film stands out as particularly bad. I don’t think I Don’t Know How She Does It will appeal to an audience outside the high powered career driven mothers, and to be honest that segment does not take time to go to the movies often.  

Films like I Don’t Know How She Does It --- Baby Boom, The Devil Wear Prada and The Women 

Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.

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