This week's hot Hollywood topic is the difficulty of being a working parent, as seen from both a female and male perspective. The woman's viewpoint comes courtesy of I Don't Know How She Does It, a transatlantic adaptation of Allison Pearson's best-selling comic novel. It stars Sarah Jessica Parker as a high-flying Boston investment banker who doesn't have enough time to see her husband (Greg Kinnear) and two children because she's so busy at the office, often with a handsome British colleague (Pierce Brosnan) with that most British of names, Jack Abelhammer.
Aline Brosh McKenna, who also adapted The Devil Wears Prada, has discarded much of Pearson's plot, leaving behind a string of observations about how hilarious it is to go to work with baby food on your suit, interspersed with endless hand-wringing from Parker; if her complicated life really makes her feel so guilty, the question isn't how she does it, but why. Still, if you compare the film with other such chick flicks, it's jauntily efficient, with enough waspish one-liners to offset the mawkishness. Considering how much it owes to its two most obvious influences, it's neither as repulsively materialist as the Sex & The City films nor as unsure of itself as the Bridget Jones ones.
The only significant sticking point is its concept. In the 21st century, or even the 20th, the notion that a woman might have a job and a family doesn't seem particularly groundbreaking, and I don't buy the assertion that working mothers rank "between felons and shoplifters" in the public eye. To justify its existence, I Don't Know How She Does It goes on the offensive, not only declaring that working mothers are a persecuted minority, but going on to persecute everyone else. Mothers who don't have jobs are condemned as bitchy "momsters"; career women who don't have children are soulless automatons – until, that is, they learn the error of their ways, and realise that motherhood is the one true path to fulfilment. It's poisonous stuff. I'd say it was anti-women, but the men it depicts are mostly awful, too.Reuse content