Adapted from Allison Pearson's 2002 novel, I Don't Know How She Does It follows the trials and tribulations of Kate Reddy (Sarah Jessica Parker), a devoted wife, loving mother, and the resident hotshot at a Boston-based investment firm. The film, unfortunately, doesn't appear to know just what it is that Kate is doing.
I Don't Know How She Does It wants to argue that the challenges women face in juggling a career and family, despite gender-based double standards, can be met if the woman in question is willing to put her heart and soul into both. What it actually imparts is that Kate's schedule is too demanding for her to do either job particularly well.
Largely reliant on Sex and the City-style voice-overs and direct addresses to the camera, the film literally pauses to tell the audience that Kate is super awesome. It tells us that she loves her kids (she makes time to build a snowman with her daughter!), that she's great at her job (nobody can make a pitch like Kate!), and that she is madly in love with her husband (they still have sex, even though they're married!). It also shows us, however, that her son's first words are "bye bye, mama," and her sales pitches are scatterbrained, albeit heartfelt. Kate's only relief from an existence that is otherwise spent in a perpetual state of anxiety is the time she spends with a business colleague (Pierce Brosnan) who makes his attraction to her abundantly clear, despite his knowledge of her marriage and the fact that his actions are kind of creepy (signing e-mails "XO, Jack," for instance). As a result, I Don't Know How She Does It accidentally implies that even the most-intelligent and enthusiastic of women squeak by on charm and sex appeal, and sexual harassment is okay if the man doling it out is hot and rich.
Despite the muddled message, the performances are generally good, if generic. Though Christina Hendricks is wasted in a role that finds her doing little more than talking about what a fantastic person Kate is, Seth Meyers, playing the office jerk, offers the film a much-needed break from its frantic pace, as does Olivia Munn as Kate's assistant. Sadly, decent performances and the occasional funny line aren't enough to save this movie from itself. As far as women-in-the-workplace films go, 9 to 5 still rules the roost.