How to juggle marriage, motherhood and a career? That’s the dilemma hotshot Boston investment analyst Kate Reddy (Sarah Jessica Parker) faces every single day, including weekends and holidays. She’s really ambitious, so when her boss (Kelsey Grammer) offers her the business opportunity of a lifetime, she’s determined to do it all…which includes sending something that looks ‘home made’ to the classroom bake sale, throwing her youngsters elaborate birthday parties and endlessly transporting them to and from school, play dates, and appointments.
Meanwhile, her laid-off architect husband (Greg Kinnear) is starting his own firm and the kids instinctively know just which guilt-buttons to push. Then there’s the suave British widower/banker (Pierce Brosnan), a corporate bigwig based in Manhattan, who thinks he may be falling in love with her.
Using the “Sex and the City” device of revealing insights into the camera, Kate’s best-friend/working mother (Christina Hendricks) burbles her praises while her workaholic executive assistant(Olivia Munn) expresses her doubts, her office rival (Seth Meyers) smugly gloats about her struggles and a nasty, stay-at-home “Momster” (Busy Phillips) constantly criticizes Kate’s choices.
Like Carrie Bradshaw, it’s all about simpering, self-absorbed Kate. So when this ditz wails with dismay because her nanny took her two year-old son for his first haircut, inadvertently sends a suggestive e-mail to a colleague, and adjusts her underwear while teleconferencing, it’s hard to be sympathetic. It’s also difficult to relate to pampered trophy wives who, literally, spend all day working out at the gym.
Although based on the amusingly wry best-seller by British author Allison Pearson, it’s somehow lost its sense of humor en route to the screen, which is surprising since Aline Brosh McKenna had such success adapting “The Devil Wears Prada.” Perhaps the fault lies with Douglas McGrath’s (“Emma”) generic direction, or maybe a superficial, retro story about stereotypically stressed, privileged people seems stale during a recession economy.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “I Don’t Know How She Does it” is a frantic 5, as SJP’s balancing act predictably collapses.