Sarah Jessica Parker, Greg Kinnear, Pierce Brosnan, Olivia Munn and Christina Hendricks star in I Don't Know How She Does It, a comedy from director Douglas McGrath (Emma, Infamous) and producer Donna Gigliotti (The Reader, Let Me In). Based on the critically acclaimed bestseller by Allison Pearson, I Don't Know How She Does It follows a Boston-based working mother trying desperately to juggle marriage, children, and a high-stress job.
Kate Reddy (Parker) devotes her days to her job with a Boston-based financial management firm. At night she goes home to her adoring, recently-downsized architect husband Richard (Kinnear) and their two young children. It's a non-stop balancing act, the same one that Kate's acerbic best friend and fellow working mother Allison (Christina Hendricks) performs on a daily basis, and that Kate's super-brainy, child-phobic young junior associate Momo (Olivia Munn) fully intends to avoid. When Kate gets handed a major new account that will require frequent trips to New York, Richard also wins the new job he's been hoping for and both will be spreading themselves even thinner. Complicating matters is Kate's charming new business associate Jack Abelhammer (Brosnan), who begins to prove an unexpected source of temptation.
How does she do it? That's the question I'd like to ask whoever is in charge of casting romantic comedies nowadays. How does Sarah Jessica Parker keep landing these parts? How does she keep being cast in roles where she's the object of more than one man's affection, all without having any sex appeal? It'd be like Andy Dick getting recurring roles as a ladies man. It just doesn't work.
Somehow, she does do it though. She keeps getting these parts and we keep wondering why. No matter, since every movie she's in seems to be the same basic premise. She usually plays a wise, worldly 30-something who narrates her own life. In 'I Don't Know How She Does It' Parker plays Kate, a worn out mother of two who struggles to keep up on her motherly duties all the while trying to be the best gosh-darned financial expert out there.
Her husband, Richard (Greg Kinnear), is a lowly architect who also spends too much time at work and not enough time with the family. What's funny about both of these characters is they act like they'd absolutely love to be home every waking minute with their kids, but when work calls they're off like a flash. The movie creates the façade of choice when there really isn't one. They'd like us to think these characters are faced with life-altering choices every day. Do I go to work, or do I spend time with my kids? Fortunately, they have enough money to pay for a nanny, live in a swanky townhouse in Boston, and afford just about everything they'd ever need. Their choices aren't based on necessity; they're based on wants. If Kate up and stops working it's pretty clear that Richard's job could support them. Maybe they'd have to move from their high-priced house, but if they really want to make some tough choices, then that's what has to be done. None of this lukewarm stuff. It's not like they're going to starve if mommy doesn't fly to Cleveland on business this weekend. With the economy the way it is, and has been the last few years, it's getting increasingly difficult to feel anything for the uber upper-middle class we see all over movies nowadays.
'I Don't Know How She Does It' tries to be too cute, too much. Its silly anecdotes and asides illustrated by actual illustrations that pop up on the screen randomly are just too annoying. Kate's inner dialogue is just as grating as any narrating Parker has done in the past. It also seems that the writers have watched too many episodes of 'The Office' and decided, "Hey, you know what would be funny. Documentary-style interviews." The cutaway scenes for interviews seem completely out of place. Like they were thrown in at the last second instead of planned out in advance. They doesn't mesh with the rest of the film, not like there's much to mesh with anyway. If not done right, it just appears cheap and overdone.
Kate's existence bares little to no resemblance to how working moms balance work life and home life. It's simply a stereotypical sitcom approach to the character. Sprinkle in a few one-liners, a couple embarrassing situations, and heavy-handed morals and you've got 'I Don't Know How She Does It.' A movie so excruciatingly mundane, it wouldn't matter what my finances were like. You couldn't pay me to watch it again.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This is an Anchor Bay Blu-ray release. It's packed in a sturdy, standard Blu-ray keepcase. The Blu-ray included is a 25GB disc. The only other thing worth noting about this release, besides its Region A coding, is that it comes with a Diapers.com coupon. Woo!
The 1080p presentation here has your typical rom-com look. The color palette tends toward the warmer side of things. Inviting primaries, sleek looking black suits, and warm skin tones. While the Blu-ray does offer a lot in the realm of detail – textures like rocky building facades and wood grain especially stand out. Facial details like Parker's age lines, or Kinnear's stubble are perfectly rendered.
The one bothersome thing that I ran into while viewing 'I Don't Know How She Does It' was that skin tones seemed to waver from natural to coppery depending on how warm the colors became as the movie went on. Skin tones never really stay consistent, and it's quite noticeable as the movie wears on. There is also some heavy banding evident on scenes that involve secondary animation, like when Kate's to-do list floats above her head before bed.
Barring a few setbacks it's a solid, filmic looking transfer. It does have its limitations though, which will be noticeable right off the bat to whoever picks this one up.
'I Don't Know How She Does It' has been given a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix.
I feel like a broken record every time I review a romantic comedy in the audio department, but here we go again. This is your basic, straightforward rom-com sound mix. Nothing more, nothing less. Dialogue is intelligible, because that's where the movie's focus is. Rears are light on the ambiance even in crowded areas like a bowling alley or busy offices. LFE is few and far between; it can be heard when the bowling balls crack onto the floor and roll towards the pins. That's about the deepest sense of bass you're going to get during this movie. That's okay though, since the sound design itself doesn't really call for any bombastic, earth-shaking sound.
In the end, this track produces audible dialogue without any hindrance, and that's really all it's been asked to do.
All these characters are trying to do is create more time for themselves. More time to be with their families, but also more time to get their work done. If time is so important to them, why are they wasting everyone else's? There's nothing to like about 'I Don't Know How She Does It.' It's tedious and dull. The characters are sitcom stereotypes instead of full-fledged characters. There isn't anyone to care for here. With average audio and video, and a non-existent supplement package you're best off forgetting that this one was ever released.