Damn you, Virginia Slims. You've gotten us all thinking that we've come a long way, baby, but we know the truth: we've come a ways from where we were, only to end up in the same place. I Don't Know How She Does It relies on wobbly logic and stereotypes to prove a point opposite from the one it appears to be promoting. To answer the title's question, she doesn't do it, if "it" refers to having a high-powered job, being at home with your family, looking perfect, and making it all look easy. Like real women, Kate (Sarah Jessica Parker) does the best she can, but life is messy, and you can never have it all--at least, in the same way that Hollywood makes it look. In a battle to make it in the "man's world" and the "woman's world," she ends up choosing her family first. Honorable of course, but isn't it kind of waving the white flag around?
Here's what's weird about the movie: I still enjoyed it. Somehow, in all of its contradictions and lack of originality, I found myself laughing and relating to it. Huge Disclaimer Time: No one with testicles should enter the theater. If you do, they might retreat into your body, refusing to reappear until you watch Rambo. If you don't have ovaries, you won't care that Kate is juggling her high-powered investment banking job, traveling, two kids, a husband, and managing a house big as the entire state of Rhode Island filled with reclaimed wood furniture (that was a test, by the way: If you don't know why reclaimed wood furniture is a big deal, you're not the intended audience).
The whole movie is Us vs. Them, so that way no one has to think too hard about gender issues. Kate and her friend Allison (Christina Hendricks) are the good guys, working hard to balance their craaaaazy lives. Sometimes, the men are on their side, like in the case of Kate's husband Richard (Greg Kinnear) or her business partner Jack (Pierce Brosnan). Of course those men don't get to address the audience through monologues like the bad guys do, because that doesn't present an obvious conflict. Instead, more screen time is given to the snobby and intolerable mom Wendy (Busy Phillips), who stays at home and throws money around instead of human kindness. She is joined by investment banking jerk Bunce (Seth Myers), who openly torments Kate for having a family. But even in their exaggerated meanness, the characters still made me chuckle.
The critic in me knows that the aforementioned things are problematic, but like I said, I was still laughing at seeing parts of my own life onscreen (who hasn't felt inadequate as compared to the Martha Stewarts of the world?! She always has time to match her purse to her shoes, that scoundrel). Enhancing my experience were all the women in my theater who were adding great commentary to the film as poor Kate got chastised for having messy hair or forgot about the school bake sale. There's something valiant in how disorderly Kate is, and it might be thanks to how much she cares about doing a good job, just like real women do. The lazy generalizations I could have done without, but overall, it's a pretty cute chick flick.