I Don’t Know How She Does It: Sarah Jessica Parker Makes No Compromises

What I don’t know: why these movies keep getting made. Based on Allison Pearson’s 2002 comic bestseller, directed by Douglas McGrath, I Don’t Know‘s real auteur is screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna, scripter of wan workplace romantic comedies such as The Devil Wears Prada and Morning Glory. Here, Kate Reddy (Sarah Jessica Parker) must balance even more than the heroines of those two earlier films: a career in hedge-fund managing, a spouse, and two young kids. In both her home and work life, Kate constantly anticipates needs and strives never to disappoint, impossible expectations that she tries to meet with ever-more-detailed logistics—planning that becomes even more complicated when her job demands that she travel to New York frequently to work on a project with a colleague there, Jack (Pierce Brosnan). How does Kate do it? She is strong, she is invincible, she apologizes a lot, though every time she’s quickly forgiven, notably by spouse Richard (Greg Kinnear). In a significant departure from Pearson’s book, Kate doesn’t have to make any real compromises to fulfill her husband’s and children’s needs and her own commitment to a job she loves. It’s not the place of I Don’t Know, a mass-market diversion, to proffer real solutions to intractable problems. But wouldn’t the film serve its intended audience—moms who do it all—better with more messiness and less fantasy?