rating: 1.5Sarah Jessica Parker has always found it hard to find decent films outside of her Carrie Bradshaw onscreen incarnation. I Don't Know How She Does It is simply another one to add to her long list of misfires. Available now on Blu-ray and DVD, read on for our review... Kate Reddy (Sarah Jessica Parker) devotes her days to her job with a Boston-based financial management firm. At night she goes home to her architect husband Richard (Greg Kinnear) and their two young children. Its a non-stop balancing act, the same one that Kates acerbic best friend and fellow working mother Allison (Christina Hendricks) performs on a daily basis, and that Kates super-brainy, child-phobic young junior associate Momo (Olivia Munn) fully intends to avoid. When Kate gets handed a major new account that will require frequent trips to New York, Richard also wins the new job hes been hoping for--and both will be spreading themselves even thinner. Complicating matters is Kates charming new business associate Jack Abelhammer (Pierce Brosnan), who begins to prove an unexpected source of temptation... Back in the 80s a series of films were released celebrating the female battle for equality in the work place. I Don't Know How She Does It sets back that collection of films further than the 30 years it's been since their release. Despite the fact that I Don't Know How She Does It is apparently celebrating Sarah Jessica Parker's character Kate for having it all (if the title alone doesn't suggest this, the various character's monologues to the camera definitely cements this idea), it actually does more to prove that she cannot juggle the pressures of a high-powered job with the responsibilities of having a growing family. Through a series of mishaps at work and some serious cock ups within her home life, Kate is shown to have very little control over her hectic lifestyle. Audiences wouldn't be blamed for wondering exactly why she's striving to have it all when the apparent struggle barely seems worth it. Through this series of misadventures there are some very minor moments of comedy, although these are rather lame, infantile moments (for example, she inadvertently rearranges her skirt before a video conference with Jack Abelhammer, who smirks at seeing it all). There's some attempt to give audiences a bit of drama - Kate has to rush to hospital after her son falls down the stairs and she may (just maybe) be attracted to Jack. Again, the drama is puerile and not particularly entertaining. Essentially Sarah Jessica Parker is a nose with an extremely good fashion sense, so taking her out of the striking, trend-setting outfits of Carrie Bradshaw and planting her in the middle of the less glamorous working-mother conundrum makes for a rather dull scenario. Whilst she plays the role of Kate with gumption, viewers will find it virtually impossible not to compare her to Carrie, as happens when a star becomes so iconically linked with a single character (and arguably lacks the dramatic range to play outside this archetype). Viewers' sympathies will undoubtedly lie with Kate, but ultimately all she does is face the daily battle that many women do (who make far less of a fuss about it too!). Pierce Brosnan is wasted on fluff like this and it can only be assumed that the former 007 was offered a paycheck so obscene he simply couldn't refuse! As Kate's new client Jack, Brosnan gives a worthy performance, flexing his comedy chops in scenes of light relief from the generally humdrum narrative. It's fun watching him watch Kate cringe as she deals with nits during their first meeting, but it becomes slightly cringe-worthy when it appears that he may have more than professional feelings towards her. Ultimately, despite his generally decent performance, Brosnan is far better at playing action heroes than he is potential romantic leads. Greg Kinnear as Kate's husband is pretty much reprehensible and could potentially make the (very few) male viewers who watch this film, feel rather ashamed of our sex. Although he's supposed to be an exasperated husband, Kinnear plays him as an almost Victorian bigot, who'd much rather his wife didn't devote as much of her attention to her career. Funnily enough, he also has his own career goals, which are, however, totally acceptable. In fact, when Kate is only available on the phone for him to tell her of his promotion, he gets rather shirty. Instead of helping her out with the balance between a career and motherhood, he punishes her for her ineptitude at being perfect as both. Strong support comes from Christina Hendricks as Kate's sarcastic best friend, Allison. Whilst Allison deals with the same responsibilities as Kate (and happens to be a single mother too), she remains witty with a refreshing 'I don't give a shit about what people think' attitude that means she appears to be much happier and far more relaxed than Kate ever could be. The remainder of the support ranges from humorous (Kelsey Grammer as Kate's boss) to mind-numbingly irritating (Olivia Munn as Kate's whining, uptight Junior Assistant Momo should surely have been far more appropriately named Mona!).
QUALITYThe visual quality of I Don't Know How She Does It is strong, with crystal clear images for the most part. The odd hint of grain is visible in some sequences, but this is the extent of any blemishing or distortion. Colours are bright and well defined, with a wide palette that incorporates cold, steely blues in the New York City scenes and warm, rosy pinks and reds in the birthday party scene, for example. The quality of the transfer is excellent, with excellently clear definition. The level of clarity within the images means that even the finest of details are luminous. The audio is also solid, with dialogue clean and audible throughout. The ambient sound flows freely through the back channels, remaining prominent throughout the film but without ever becoming overpowering. Whilst the visual and audio quality is sound, there is nothing that makes it an extraordinary print unfortunately.
EXTRASRather pathetically (and perhaps predicting the low sales this release will undoubtedly receive), there isn't a single supplementary feature on the disc. Film: 1 out of 5 This lacklustre comedy drama has very little to offer viewers, with a series of unfunny scenarios and puerile dramatic interludes. In fact, it would have been much more appropriate if the title was I Don't Know Why You Bothered Watching This! Visuals: 4 out of 5 Despite lacking considerably in narrative quality, the transfer on this release is a nice, bright, clean print - better than it really deserves... Audio: 4 out of 5 The audio is similarly proficient, with dialogue clean and crisp throughout. Ambient sounds are strong without becoming overpowering. Extras: 0 out of 5 Without a single special feature, this release is nothing short of a disgrace to the Blu-ray format. Presentation: 3 out of 5 The front cover imagery sums up the theme of the film well, but is about as average as the film itself. Menus are easy to navigate, but again, nothing above standard. Overall: 1.5 out of 5 A mediocre film has been given a suitably average release. Whilst the visuals and audio are of a stellar quality, the film itself is incredibly poor... Definitely not one to seek out! I Don't Know How She Does It is available on Blu-ray and DVD now.
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