It’s been a while since we played this game, so here’s a refresher. The way it works is, we take a movie none of us are probably going to see (say, a Miley Cyrus tear jerker, a J. Lo rom-com, or in this case, a high-larious laffer about Carrie Bradshaw juggling family and career), and try to recreate the plot using quotes from the sad-sack critics forced to sit through it. Because great art comes from limitations, we restrict ourselves to only expository quotes (NO ANALYSIS!). But of course, the thinly-veiled hatred still seeps through, and therein lies the fun. Today’s subject is I Don’t Know How She Does It, starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Greg Kinnear, and Christina Hendricks, based on Allison Pearson’s clit-lit bestseller of the same name. You might be shocked to learn that an SJP vehicle with a condescending title and a script that looks like it was written in 1978 was not a critical darling. Oh I know, I was as shocked as you are, she’s such a hit with the commoners.
Sarah Jessica Parker plays Kate, a harried Boston banker who spends the entire movie warming up leftover working-mom gags. -NYPos
She’s usually a mess: shirt partially untucked, hair uncombed, a splotch of that morning’s breakfast lodged in a crusty clump on her blazer. -AP
Her job as an investment banker has her traveling frequently. -Film.com
We first see Kate, who’s Type-Triple-A, as she desperately repackages a store-bought pie for a bake sale to make it seem homemade. -Chicago Tribune
She narrates the film for us, Carrie Bradshaw-style, letting us know how much she misses her 6-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son when she’s away. -Film.com
“This pie was going to be home-made if it’s the last thing I did,” vows Kate as she hastens to the bake-sale. -Guardian
Kate’s narration also allows her to give us the inside scoop on her friends and co-workers -Film.comFor example, her assistant, Momo (Olivia Munn), “has the work ethic of a robot — and the warmth!” One of the judgmental, gym-going “supermoms” she knows “is in better shape than a Navy SEAL — tougher, too!” Kate’s best friend, Allison (Christina Hendricks), a single mom whose alleged child is never seen, gets in on the act with this: “The inside of a working woman’s head is like the control tower at O’Hare Airport!” -Film.com
The “it” of the title is juggling (cue, in the closing seconds, an amazingly self-satisfied line about her occupation being “juggler”). -NY Post
Here she is getting into a corporate elevator full of suits with a dozen kids’ party balloons. During a PowerPoint presentation, a sonogram of a fetus shows up. In a business meeting, she has “bouncy house” written in marker on her palm. -NY Post
She lies awake working on “The List” — birthday party plans, school bake sale obligations, home repair arrangements. -Orlando Sentinel
The film visualizes Kate’s endless things-to-do list that gives her insomnia as an animated scrawl. -NY Times
“Number 3, Call Richard’s mother. Number 4, Wax something. ANYthing.” -Orlando Sentinel
Did you know that when you have a stressful job and a couple young children, you’ll often be too tired for sex? And that sometimes there’s a splotch of pancake batter on your blouse? And that it’s hard to schedule business meetings so they don’t conflict with your kids’ school events? -Film.com
Animated graphics illustrate what’s going on in Kate’s cluttered mind -NY Post
Trouble is brewing. On the one hand, Kate has promised to make a snowman at Thanksgiving. On the other, she keeps being called down for PowerPoint presentations in New York, where she is close to cutting a deal with Jack Abelhammer. It’s all too much; something’s got to give. -Guardian
Why does she wait until a video conference is starting to adjust her tights? Why doesn’t she ask her nanny to make a pie she needs for the school bake sale? Why does she suddenly start babbling, on a crowded elevator, that “I make a great turkey . . . my breast is very juicy”? Why must she freak out over everything? -NY Post
The perfect blond stay-at-home mothers, or “Momsters,” she imagines, are judging her behind her back -NY Post
The movie periodically cuts to one of Kate’s acquaintances giving testimonials, like reality-show contestants. Mostly they express their amazement over her ability to handle it all, with variations of “I don’t know how she does it” repeated constantly. Her enemies, like a supermom played by Busy Philipps and a smarmy co-worker played by Seth Meyers, make passive-aggressive remarks. -Film.com
Kate’s buddy Allison issues facile man-hating truisms, such as one about how a man who leaves his job to take care of his kid is considered adorable, while a woman who does so is called disorganized. -NY Post
Kate’s assistant (Olivia Munn), gets pregnant halfway through the film and spends the rest of the time retching. Always good for a laugh. -NY TImes
But Kate Reddy replumps her hair and presses onward in search of the life-work balance, while a gallery of supporting players line up to eulogise her and Bill Withers sings Lovely Day on the soundtrack. -Guardian
She lands an assignment with Jack Abelhammer and must spend many nights and weekends working on a presentation to take to an investor. -Film.com
…the investor only being able to meet on the day after Thanksgiving, which is when Kate promised her daughter they’d build a snowman. -Film.com
Kate’s kitchen is big enough to host a polo match. Her nanny is there for her all day. -NY Post
More than once, a character exclaims, “Let’s make some money!” -NY Times
While on a business trip to Cleveland, -ChicagoTrib
Kate and Jack, an even richer banker, delightedly discover the existence of bowling proletarians and drink Bud longnecks instead of their usual martinis. -NY Post
(So that’s where the middle class went — Cleveland!) -ChicagoTrib
“If you win this for us we’ll forgive you for being a banker,” they tell Abelhammer, who duly sends the pins flying, reforming the whole financial sector in one fell swoop. -Guardian
In an effort to provide something resembling a plot, the movie gins up a flirtation between Kate and Brosnan’s charming widower. (Can’t rom-coms ever imagine a guy whose wife died could still be a total jackass?)
It then doesn’t know what to do with this idea because it doesn’t want its lead to be judged by all the mommies out there. The good news about “I Don’t Know How She Does It” is that it’s so bad that it’s another ovary-punch to the formula chick flick.
Okay, okay, I totally cheated on that last one, it was almost totally analysis. But in my defense, every review pretty much dispensed with summary two-thirds of the way through the movie. I guess they didn’t want to spoil the ending.
I want more like this!
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