I Don't Know How She Does It:
This is really the question those who don't much like Sarah Jessica Parker are asking. Somehow, she keeps making movies, and despite the popularity of Sex And The City, none of those movies are very good. Yet she keeps on making them. And hey, people keep eating plain white rice, too. Whoops! Here's another one, in which she plays a sassy, tiny bit frumpy woman of means. In between being married to Greg Kinnear and working a high-powered job in finance, she begins to fall for a British Guy. It's standard SJP, so you already know the score.
It seems like more and more movies these days, especially comedies, come in the faux-documentary format made ubiquitous by The Office. In addition to being a facile motif, it sets I Don't Know How up with ... let me check my notes out ... with a "fucking cloying serio-dumbass" introduction, as a sprightly redhead waxes rhapsodic about the miraculous SJP. (I'd like to now mention that I love the series Square Pegs, and watched and quite enjoyed the entire Sex And The City television series, so I'm no garden variety SJP hater.) But damn, have her last few movies been troubling. It's as if she's launched into some venal fantasy world of wealth and improbability as she floats amazingly above us. That, and she works in Hollywood.
Nonetheless, she forges on through ever more improbable and formulaic pictures. To wit, there's not a lot that rings even remotely true in this movie, wherein major lapses in logic squeeze themselves in as stupid jokes. Kinnear and SJP have two kids, the youngest of which is over two-years-old, yet SJP jokes that Kinnear shouldn't go to work wearing a shirt with barf stains, implying that this is a regular occurrence. Anyone with kids knows you're well past the "being unaware of the constant spit-up on your clothes" stage by the time your kid is two. It's a lame, out of place joke displayed with clueless pride.
It also goes without saying that SJP's character is yet another simple mirror of her public persona, in addition to being unrealistic in willful manner. Her 'perfect mom' character eventually loses its sheen - the one aspect of this movie that works well - yet it's still frustratingly unbelievable. Then again, Sarah Jessica Parker isn't very realistic or believable as a real person, either. Greg Kinnear is a solid actor following SJP into dramatic anonymity, he's a nice, reliable white guy. Lord, even Pierce Brosnan is sullied. Though his British brand of grey ape authority is always a pleasure to behold, here, he's asked to fall for SJP, who can only ride the flustered waves of her charisma for so long, if you know what I'm saying.
I Don't Know How She Does It isn't all bad as an undemanding date movie. It has a few good laughs centered on SJP's struggles juggling work and kids, and her contentious relationships with the other 'perfect' moms. You also can't argue with the knee-jerk pleasure received when the plot works out just like it's supposed to, even though you hate yourself for enjoying it. But what you'll hate most in this wish-dream of the urban wealthy is its anti-feminist message. You know what? SJP can't do it all! Everything works out for her, but it takes a toll she no longer wants to pay. As she says, "trying to be a man is a waste of a woman." Amen, baby, now get in the kitchen and make me a sandwich. And would it kill you to get a better haircut?
I don't know how they managed to make this 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation look as solid as any other major studio DVD release. Colors are rich, saturated, and oh-so-stylish. The image is crisp when it needs to be, and gauzy when SJP is around. (I promised I wouldn't take any cheap shots, but look what happened.) Details are nice, and compression problems are a no-show.
The DVD comes equipped with Dolby Digital 5.1 Audio, which is equally up to snuff. Clearly a romantic comedy is going to be dialog driven, with plenty of quirky music to let you know where the funny bits are, so the need for a flashy mix is minimal. However, you will enjoy a nice dynamic range, sharp, clear dialog, and an overall harmonious balance between elements.
English SDH Subtitles and Spanish Subtitles are like a dynamic duo, backing up an eight-minute Conversation With Best-Selling Author Allison Pearson who foisted this movie concept on us first, in novel form.
A few real laughs can't save this largely improbable, irksome romantic comedy starring the inexplicable Sarah Jessica Parker and Anydude Greg Kinnear. As SJP struggles to broker a multi-million-dollar deal while raising her kids, Pierce Brosnan pops up as an unlikely love interest, and your brain pops out for a pint at the corner pub. At least we're left with the revolutionary idea that a woman's place is in the home. Skip It.
- Kurt Dahlke
~ More of Dahlke's DVD Talk reviews here at DVD Talk I'm not just a writer, I paint colorful, modern abstracts, too! Check them out here KurtDahlke.com