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My relationship with the lovely Sarah Jessica Parker goes back a long way.  From the bubbly, dance-crazy friend in Footloose, as well the bubbly, dance-crazy friend in Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, to the high school nerd trying to fit in on the TV sitcom Square Pegs (- Maybe she should’ve been more bubbly and dance-crazy?), my regard for SJP is long-lived and strong.  It pains me to write bad reviews about her movies; Sex and the City 2 hurt me with every lash I gave it.  So, when I give my thoughts about her latest film, I Don’t Know How She Does It, I’d better make sure a paramedic is standing by.

Kate is a mother of two adorable small children; she has the love of a handsome husband, adoring in-laws, a nanny who really adores her kids and a career on a huge upswing.  So tell us, Kate, what’s wrong? Apparently, Kate's dissatisfaction with her lot is due to the long hours she’s spent working on a project that will lock her in solid with the boss and finally give her an edge over her slimy rival coworker.  Kate’s assistant is a devoted, if chilly machine who slaves for her and is determined to see Kate succeed.  Her new collaborator on this project is a dashing, incredibly handsome man who takes Kate and her ideas seriously and thinks she’s the greatest thing since hedge funds.  All these things right and still Kate is brought to tears about the time she spends away from her family.

Suck it up, sister.  This movie couldn’t have been more the wrong film at the wrong time if it tried.  Here we are in one of the worst unemployment crises in American history and this woman, working in a financial management firm -- not exactly the most popular job on the planet these days, but certainly one that thousands of out of work men and women would give their right arm to have -- is crying over having a spend an overnight business trip every now and again. 

Not only is the current struggling economy unfriendly to this premise, but the whole idea that Kate should apologise and be guilt-ridden for achieving success in her chosen field just because she’s a woman is downright insulting.  Would this even be a movie if it had been Kate’s husband spending more time away from home because his job was going really well?  

Also, as I mentioned there is nothing on the planet this woman and her family could ask for; her kids live in a lovely Boston brownstone with two doting parents and grandparents.  They go to a school where the bake sale is a major event (- As long as the cakes and cookies have no refined sugar – Man, that roll hurt my eyes.).  They even have a country home in the snowy mountains to escape to and use as an excuse to insert a saccharine family sing-a-long of old 70’s R&B songs that no small child would ever know.  They have a caring nanny, so much so that the emergency substitution of a dozy, old-school elderly babysitter due to Kate’s failure at time management, throws Kate into a tizzy.  Even on just the husband’s smaller paycheck, the family won’t starve.  

I get what they’re going for, I truly do; highlighting the unfairness in the workplace that women often have to choose between a job and family time.  This would have been far easier to take in 1982, when ladies’ padded-shouldered “power suits” were all the rage as women became an executive force to be reckoned with, but this isn’t 30 years ago.  1980’s 9 to 5 dealt with the situation of ladies’ unfair treatment in the workplace far more adroitly and was a heck of a lot funnier.  The comedy, or what’s meant to pass for comedy, is the most insipid slapstick; a whole segment is dedicated to Kate’s discovering she’s caught lice from her children in the middle of an important business meeting.  Equally har-har-hilarious is Kate’s saucy instant message mix-up with a colleague she’s trying to impress.  There are absolutely no surprises either in the attempted humour, the rote romantic tension with the new partner, or the friction between Kate and her financially inferior husband.  

But back to why this movie couldn’t be more inappropriate; women around the world would kill to be Kate, and the production utterly fails to notice the five-hundred pound gorilla on the screen of the thousands of single mothers who work all the hours that God sends, struggling to find and afford safe, reputable day care, so they might actually have the opportunity to get a menial job.  Women who truly risk everything when their kids get sick, because there’s no one else to help.  Women who have no choice but to work through the holidays, so a jaunt to the country home for Thanksgiving really isn’t in the cards for them. 

Not meaning to leave out the single dads, believe me, I know you exist, but this film is nothing if not sexist, even with its very ideology that women can’t handle or have it all.  I understand why Kate feels she can’t and it’s because she’s written as a disorganised, uncoordinated mess, yet she’s sobbing over this rush of achievement and reward that women with far more on the ball deserve and never see. 

The vanity of this film to think that Kate’s troubles – which could have easily been sorted in the way they are later in the film – would mean anything to these ladies who genuinely fight every day to care for their children in the most basic sense, is blind and appalling.  It’s just horrible that more success and a larger income are getting in the way of Kate’s perfect life. 

Considering the main character’s misery in light of her good fortune to have a two-parent home in the beautiful brownstone, good schools for her kids, supportive grandparents, friends, and lest we forget, she also has a freaking nanny; I Don’t Know How She Does It might have been more aptly titled I Don’t Know Why She Bothers. I also don’t know how anyone had the gall to release this pathetic yuppies’ lament to a paying audience.

 

~ The Lady Miz Diva

Sept 16th, 2011

 

 

 

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Photos

(Courtesy of  The Weinstein Company)

 

 

 

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