A serviceable comedy about women who want to "have it all," "I Don't Know How She Does It" takes a look at a working mother who faces the challenge of balancing her career and her family.
Underneath the laughs, there's a serious message about the double standards for men and women in the work place. When the script addresses these, it's at its most interesting. Otherwise, it's really just a lengthy situation comedy that's typical of what you might see on any channel on any evening.
Kate Reddy (Sarah Jessica Parker) is happily married to Richard (Greg Kinnear). They have two children who miss their mother when she's traveling all over for her Boston firm.
Now Kate has a chance for a promotion and recognition by working directly with Jack Abelhammer (Pierce Brosnan), who asks that she consider herself nearly on-call, working through many nights and being able to meet with clients at a moment's notice.
Richard tries his best to be supportive. But the kids complain that they miss Kate, and she ends up missing part of a Thanksgiving family get-together, not to mention the all-important first haircut for her son.
Meanwhile, Kate and Jack find themselves drawn to each other simply because of their proximity. Their long work hours result in a friendship that begins to feel like more to both of them - and Richard is not blind to the effect that Kate's new colleague has on his wife.
Sometimes, the movie takes itself seriously, which puts it out of whack with other moments that are contrived to make the audience feel that "family is the most important thing" warm fuzzy. The dispatch of an unfortunately worded email would not be taken this lightly in a corporate setting, for example. Here it's laughed as being "charming."
Sometimes the script's approach is clever, particularly with entertaining voiceovers and commentary by others in brief "interviews."
The finale is ridiculous. It is simple wish fulfillment and nothing more. The script pretty much paints itself into a corner, so that the fairy tale ending is the only option that will leave the audience in a warm glow. The film would have been more memorable had it ended with an edge.
Parker's fans and sit-com aficionados won't mind the movie's faults. It's a trifle that will be forgotten by the time Thanksgiving rolls around.