In this film image released by The Weinstein Company, Sarah Jessica Parker, left, and Greg Kinnear are shown in a scene from "I Dont Know How She Does It." (AP Photo/The Weinstein Company, Craig Blankenhorn)
I Don't Know How She Does It
3 out of 4 stars
You know something about this chick flick will be different when you notice the studio releasing it. The Weinstein Company (created by the same brothers who founded Miramax) is a serious studio that releases serious movies that get a lot of Oscar nominations and awards. Bob and Harvey Weinstein aren't the guys you think of when it comes to lightweight fluff comedies.
While "I Don't Know How She Does It" (in desperate need of a shorter, less generic title) does have its fair share of fluff, very little of it is lightweight and in some instances, it is downright inspired. If you're a guy and you hate this kind of film but want to earn some major brownie points with the lady, ask her to see this movie with you and not her girlfriends. It will hurt very little and you might actually like it.
In a manner exactly like that in her "Sex in the City" TV series and movies, this film uses small amounts of voice-over narration from Sarah Jessica Parker's lead character Kate. If the movie were a baseball game, Kate's contributions could be called color. Most of the play-by-play comes from Kate's emotionally-challenged assistant Momo (Olivia Munn) and her best friend Allison (Christina Hendricks). The latter loves Kate and the former simply respects her and both are thoroughly amazed by how blindingly efficient Kate is at juggling work and family.
Not everyone is a fan of Kate. Offering up snide commentary and grinning, left-handed compliments is fellow worker Chris ("SNL" newsman Seth Myers) and Wendy (Busy Phillips), a non-working "momster" who spends her days exercising, strolling in the park, being catty and sub-contracting out every duty most stay-at-home women do on their own.
Both Myers and Phillips are clearly written as antagonists but neither is exaggerated or over the top -- which lends each of their characters immense believability. That credibility also extends to the child actors playing Kate's children and the two most important adult men in her life; architect/husband Richard (Greg Kinnear) and Jack (Pierce Brosnan), a senior finance VP working in tandem with her trying to secure a highly lucrative new account.
Kinnear -- equally adept at doing amiable or smarmy -- is the consummate supportive husband who is understanding and patient but never a doormat. Brosnan -- with graying temples and a slightly fuller mid-section -- channels Cary Grant and couldn't be more charming or mysteriously inscrutable. We think we know what Jack is thinking yet he always manages to surprise us and is never less than a perfect gentleman. Again, two more very interesting, original and engaging characters added to the mix.
Potential viewers should take note: while never overtly vulgar or crude, there is plenty of sexual innuendo and double-entendre humor and the movie more than earns its PG-13 rating. Don't make it a second date movie unless the first one was perfect and definitely don't take any pre-teens to see it. Very few people under the age of 30 will want to get the jokes and even fewer will be able to relate to the characters or the near-midlife flavored plot.
Director Douglas McGrath and screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna (adapting the British-set best-selling novel by Allison Pearson) delivers a most welcomed cinematic rarity: a romantic comedy that is smart, sexy, funny, droll and -- best of all -- unpredictable. There are enough glitches and slight narrative hiccups to knock it down a peg and some critics will go even further in slamming it. Fine -- it's not high-art and it's not perfect and neither is anybody in the movie or anyone who might see it. Therein is its beauty. (The Weinstein Co.)