How she does what, exactly? There is very little evidence in Sarah Jessica Parker’s profoundly dull working-mom romantic comedy, I Don’t Know How She Does It, that Parker’s character, Kate, does much of anything except bitch about how hard it is to do everything. Here’s an idea, studio comedy working moms: Divide the time that you complain about being a working mom in half, and use the other half to make your kid her fucking lunch.
A working-mom comedy like I Don’t Know How She Does It doesn’t really resonate with anyone. Singletons don’t give a shit about parenting problems, and actual parents — particularly those who don’t have the benefit of a nanny, a six-figure income, and giant Boston apartment — don’t relate to the problems of Kate Reddy so much as they resent them. Most working parents figured that shit out long before their children were in grade school, not because we had some grand epiphany when it started snowing, but out of goddamn necessity. We don’t wake up at 6 a.m. every morning and ask ourselves, “Hmmm. How am I going to balance work and home life today?” We’re too busy getting the kid dressed, making his breakfast, and finding his goddamn stuffy so he won’t stop crying to contemplate our fucking existential despair. So you’ll excuse me, Sarah Jessica Parker movie, if I don’t identify with the worries and concerns of two wealthy, successful parents with a large support network and on-demand child care because Mom missed her son’s first haircut. You know why most parents don’t miss their kid’s first haircut? Because they cut it them-fucking-selves because the surcharge on a kid’s haircuts at “Cookie Cutters” is not worth the obnoxious over-stimulating atmosphere and the shitty fucking toy that will probably give your kid lead poisoning.
So what is I Don’t Know How She Does It about? Honestly, nothing. Nothing happens in this movie. So much nothing. The nothing never ends. It’s around the world in nothing days, sitting by the dock of the nothing, Saturday night is all right for nothing. This movie is Ethan Hawke singing in Reality Bites. It’s one of those movies where you keep waiting for the studio-manufactured complication to develop, and about an hour into it, you realize that this is the complication: Kate has a difficult time striking a balance between work and home; her husband (Blandy Greg McSmirkerson) — who also works full time — slightly resents the fact that he’s additionally become the full-time parent in a very understanding and sympathetic way; and the self-imposed demands of her career as a financial analyst don’t allow her the time to bake a cake occasionally. What does she do? She buys a store-bought cake and suffers the judgement of catty, bitchy women. That’s her problem? Oh, for fuck’s sake, if you care more about what other people might think of you than your children then the cake is not the goddamn problem.
The only time anything ever seems to actually happen in I Don’t Know How She Does It is during a musical montage, of which there are many, all of which Kate under-utilizes. Do you know how much you can accomplish in a musical montage? Jason Bateman learned an entire semester’s worth of biology in a musical montage in Teen Wolf Too. Daniel-san wiped out most of the members of Cobra-Kai in a music montage. Rocky trained for the heavy-weight championship of the world in a musical montage. What can Kate Reddy do in a musical montage? Attend a birthday party and look over some paperwork with a serious expression. Oh, la dee fucking da! Take better advantage of your musical montages, lady. And another thing: If you can stop time Zack Morris-style to break the fourth wall, then why don’t you stop time and bake a fucking cake for your kids?
I should also note that there is a likable supporting case in unlikable roles, who are mostly relegated to disjointed documentary-style confessional asides. And I don’t know who cast this movie, but he or she should have their license revoked: Busy Phillips plays a bitchy, exercise-obsessed mother. Huh? Olivia “Dogshit” Munn plays corporate executive type whose name is, I shit you not, MoMo Han. And Seth Meyers plays an asshole. Seth Meyers? Who cast Seth Meyers as an asshole? Someone apparently who has never seen Seth Meyers. Pierce Brosnan also plays a rich guy who develops feelings for Kate; Kelsey Grammar plays her demanding but totally understanding boss; and Christina Hendricks plays Kate’s best friend, although mostly she just delivers asides about how difficult it is to be a working mom. (Note: Her character is single and has no children.)
Essentially, I Don’t Know How She Does It is a movie about a vapid twit who doesn’t know how to navigate problems of her own making. The characters that surround her are mostly sympathetic and understanding, save for the bitchy stay-at-home moms (who do not, I might add, well represent the stay-at-home mom community, unless all stay-at-home moms spend 8 hours a day at the gym) and a harmless asshole colleague. This woman has it made, and she wants us to play a goddamn tiny violin for her insufferable first world problems, but in the end, all we want to do is smash that goddamn violin over her head.