Friday, September 16, 2011

Doug McGrath: Urban Emptiness (I Don't Know How She Does It)

Sarah Jessica Parker, I Don't Know How She Does It, Weinstein Company, 2011.

Yet another entry into the seemingly bottomless pit of "chick flick" insults to intelligence and womanhood, the soporific I Don't Know How She Does It generically purports to penetrate the life of a modern metropolitan career woman, wife and mother, portrayed by the talented but tiresome Sarah Jessica Parker.

Parker went from a likable young character actress to a TV star with her smart turn as a sassy career "girl" on the campy smash Sex and the City. She and her co-stars all shone, yet so far, Kim Catrall has been the only one to show good taste as an afterthought, working with great film directors the likes of John Boorman and Roman Polanski. Parker, on the other hand, has gone the other route, trying to corner the market in the Julia/Meg/Sandra/Reese territory of nauseatingly coy rom-coms. She's currently competing with Katherine Heigl for the title of America's sweetheart. Neither actress is really cutting it.

From Failure to Launch to The Family Stone to the Sex and the City movies to Did You Hear About the Morgans, Parker has turned up in one headache after another. I was hopeful for her new film, that maybe it could possibly fall somewhere between screwball and sap, Cukor and Reiner. Nothing doing. The great cast is defeated by a listless script, and mediocre production all around. SJP does her Carrie Bradshaw mugging, only as a semi-domestic diva now. Greg Kinnear and Pierce Brosnan are utterly wasted as her male co-stars.

Doug McGrath is a vastly underrated actor-director whose presence here raised my hopes. He is a veteran Woody Allen actor, and has himself amassed an impressive body of work including Emma, Nicholas Nickleby and Infamous. I Don't Know . . . was definitely motivated by a paycheck, as it is his worst film. The navel gazing narrative and typical visual style are lazy and derivative.

To say the entire affair is a travesty is saying too much. It is so boring as to fall below the radar, yet another nail in the coffin that is Sarah Jessica Parker's career.

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