‘Sex in the City’ star fails to find spark in new movie

Abbie Powers

After school on an un­seasonably chilly Sep­tember day, I charged to the front of Forum 8’s box office in quest of a freshly torn, “twilight-priced” ticket to two hours of a femininely satisfying film. I Don’t Know How She Does It was this afternoon’s treat.
The film was centered around a busy, working woman in the bustling city of Boston. She works with a steel-sharp work ethic and is also a warmly loving wife and mother of two young children. When work gets even busier, and equally more successful, she is faced with a classic dilem­ma: work or home?
I sink myself deeper into my too stiff chair, prepared for yet another movie about a woman who juggles work and family comically and probably chooses family in the end.
Its intro was spot on – stringy notes stuck together with sweetness like syrup and a few soft bursts from the piano – the classic, in­vigoratingly lovely sort of tune: the one whose job it is to shift the audience’s emo­tional state from that of the non-cinematic world to a place where nobody pees or brushes their hair.
As the beginning dragged on, I became in­creasingly aware of too much talking — it was a chick flick, but even those have their limits.
Sarah Jessica Parker (Sex and the City, Failure to Launch, The Family Stone) held a running commentary that seemed like it’d never stop.
Narrating to introduce the movie is one thing, but when she started to describe in detail the story about the pie, I’d had enough of her voice for the next two hours.
By the end of the film, the vexatious tones of her drawl seemed almost natu­ral, a part of a character we’d eventually learn to ac­cept, and a commonplace necessity in the running of the story.
But that doesn’t mean it didn’t take some getting used to.
Parker comes from a long line of high-heeled, hollow-cheeked, big city talking women (Failure to Launch), and it seems almost too perfect she should be playing a woman with very similar values in this film – hardworking, relationship-centered, clever and well presented.
But every time I hear Parker talk, it’s about her­self. The voice in her head broadcasts over so many conflicts, so many scenes, that it’s grown too old to be entertaining.
Her one-dimensional acting style is quite simple in itself — reserved woman, as smart as any man, witty enough to be somewhat funny, but not loose enough to convince the audience of an actual sense of humor.
While her character lacks a genuine, robust presence, Parker continues to act well and pulls off the few comi­cal sequences that rendered true humor and a round of laughs from the audience.
The costars in I Don’t Know How She Does It pulled quite a bit of its weight. SNL’s Seth Meyers added subtle, cruel yet tasteful hu­mor as the resident jerk at Parker’s workplace, Pierce Brosnan instills a classic comfort and charm as his handsome, successful self, and Christina Hendricks provides quick, fresh wit and sincerity in her acting as Parker’s strong-willed best friend.
The movie rang with predictability. Many scenes even made me roll my eyes, like the too happy grins ex­changed between Parker and her husband across a busy room. Still, it’s not without its moments.
Although montages of happy, day-to-day events between mothers and their children often induced the eye rolls, there were a few times during I Don’t Know How She Does It that forced me to smile.
It conveyed some part of the actual joy mothers claim they feel in a freshly comical way like when Parker cries because of missing her son’s first haircut no matter how hungry I was or how cynical I was trying to be.
The family she may or may not choose in the end wins over the hearts of the audience — it has to, since Parker is trying to decide between them and her work the whole film — and we have to be rooting for what she innately knows is right.
But this is Parker’s movie we’re talking about: a feel good, Friday afternoon, easy-to-follow film: her choice is less than obvious.
By Abbie Powers