I Don’t Know How She Does It Review

If Conan is the ultimate male fantasy, I Don’t Care How She Does It is the ultimate female fantasy. No, Sarah Jessica Parker isn’t running around chopping off the heads of her fellow tribeswomen (but that would be awesome), but it’s a mother struggling while raising two kids, putting together that big proposal, and dealing with her husband. How grand.

The title alone sets itself up for a nightmarish realm of critic thrashings, like No One Cares How She Does It, which oddly becomes disturbingly relevant as time goes by. That’s mostly because this 90-minute piece feels like three hours.

It’s not that mothers don’t work hard or just lie around and take it easy; they don’t. If you’re going to make this into a movie though, step one is to make the audience care. Step two is not to have Sarah Jessica Parker botch that super duper important meeting because her head itches. Step three is to not have Sarah Jessica Parker at all.

But, to the target audience, the same group who slogged through Sex and City 2, Parker must have some appeal. Box office numbers people; it’s always about the numbers. So, what else can the studio do? Ooh, Pierce Brosnan. That’ll put butts in the seats.

Nothing about How She Does It feels authentic or natural, a crime against the potential for showing what motherhood against the backdrop of randomly structured employment truly is. There’s this snarky, breezy tone that makes light of it all, almost lowering itself to a kids movie. What, they want little girls to watch this to see what they’re in for? Quite honestly, How She Does It feels like a grown up Diary of a Wimpy Kid, or Diary of an Overworked Mother who Just Wants to Build a Freakin’ Snowman.

Maybe the studio saw easy money here. Movies like this don’t involve any risk taking, or in this case the script and likely the source material. With the right cast, it’s destined to draw in an audience willing to soak this stuff up, and yet it didn’t. Maybe the sequel should be You Should’ve Known Women Were Smarter Than This.

Movie ★★☆☆☆ 

Anchor Bay’s AVC encode has a rough go of it, namely because the thick, swarming grain structure requires quite a bit of digital prowess to hold intact. For the most part, it does just that, keeping it collected and making it visible in patches. There are those moments where it loses the fight, a kitchen conversation for example where the wall is taken over by noise, but recovery is quick.

What the disc isn’t able to recover from is the color grading, so warm it’s supposed to be inviting. Instead, it makes everyone look like they’ve turned into orange aliens. Everything is red and over saturated, even as the snow begins to fall. Apparently, despite such a drastically crammed schedule, everyone here still finds time to snag some UV lights or sun.

Issue continue, namely the black levels which, while firm, end up soaking up an alarming amount of shadow detail. Black overcoats become a single piece, darker hair looks like a blob sitting on the actor’s head, and rooms become splotches of black when dark. Subtlety is not the disc’s strong suit. Filters are also employed to bloom light sources and thus the contrast, an aggressive move that begins washing fine detail.

The film isn’t exactly attentive to definition in the first place, at one point employing a pathetic optical zoom that appears to have been wiped clean to make it less obvious. The choice is a fail. Some flicker within a few city aerials and striped clothing seem to indicate a little tampering, although nothing that leads to anything more visible than the latter. Only a handful of close-ups truly nail the HD-ness format lovers are looking for, leaving this one to wander into mediocrity.

Video ★★★☆☆ 

You can imagine becoming a sound designer ready to work on the next Jason Statham “blow ’em up” action flick only to have I Don’t Know How She Does It end up on the resume. Accept these deepest sympathies brave soldier.

Dealing with what you’re handed means making it work, and there are a few moments where this dramedy comes alive. Parker imagines voices in her head which begin traveling around the soundfield, an event that happens twice actually. It gives this DTS-HD mix some pep, at least something beyond center-driven dialogue. There’s a forced scene at a bowling alley too that captures all of the tension (not really) with pins crashing all around. How thrilling. Fidelity is fine, balance is perfect, yada yada. It’s as expected.

Audio ★★★★☆ 

This one traces back to author Allison Pearson. She wrote the book the movie is based on, so you can view the sole extra, an interview with her describing the process.

Extras ★☆☆☆☆