"I Don't Know How She Does It" is an entertaining romantic comedy more of a drama with comedy.
Sarah Jessica Parker plays Kate, a high-powered Boston investment firm executive married to Richard (a fine Greg Kinnear), an architect whose career has just taken an upward turn.
Kate's boss (Kelsey Grammer) assigns her to a new account, which requires additional domestic travel, especially to New York City to meet with the prospective client, Jack (a charming Pierce Brosnan).
There's are subplots concerning Kate's incredibly capable assistant (Olivia Munn), a rival employee (Seth Meyers) and a gal pal (Christina Hendricks).
The storyline's conflict has to do with Kate balancing the demands of her career and the concerns of her young daughter and toddler son, despite the help of a nanny (Jessica Szohr).
Director Douglas McGrath ("Infamous," "Nicholas Nickleby," "Emma") tells the story in an interesting way, from a screenplay by Aline Brosh McKenna ("The Devil Wears Prada") based on the popular novel by Allison Pearson.
The technique, not unlike that used in "When Harry Mets Sally," utilizes straight-to-camera interviews with some of the characters, who comment about Kate. Also, there is voiceover narration by Kate (Parker) and some clever animated middle-of-the night mental "to-do lists."
The dialogue has a fair amount of wit and humor, as in Kate's comment about the joy of being the parent of a two-year-old: "It's like being a movie star in a world without critics."
Or this: A working woman's mind works like "the control tower at O'Hare Airport." Speaking of which, travel for a "weekend warrior" consists mainly of seeing "the insides of airports and hotel rooms."
At the same time, the movie's title is repeated verbatim three different times by three different characters, in case we miss the point.
That said, the movie has its moments that turn on the waterworks. Parker and Kinnear portray such a likeable couple, and seem so earnest in their desire to make their marriage work that you can't help but be empathetic.
Parker plays frenetic and geeky and sincerity all at once and most of the time it's effective. Parker is naturally over-the-top, which works for the character she portrays here.
While "I Don't Know" holds no great surprises, there are quite a few life lessons to be gleaned, which are related in an amusing and entertaining way. Couples should enjoy the movie for what might be in store in married life. Married couples should enjoy the movie with a knowing recognition.
"I Don't Know How She Does It," MPAA Rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13); Genre: Comedy; Run Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes; Distributed by The Weinstein Company.
Credit Readers Anonymous: The Lehigh Valley's Santo Loquasto is production designer for "I Don't Know How She Does It."
Unreel, Sept. 23:
"Moneyball," PG-13: Brad Pitt plays Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane, who assembles a baseball club on a budget using computer-generated analysis to draft players. Also stars Robin Wright, Jonah Hill and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Directed by Bennett Miller ("Capote").
"Abduction," PG-13: John Singleton directs Taylor Lautner ("Twilight"), Maria Bello and Alfred Molina in a thriller about a young man who uncovers a conspiracy having to do with his being kidnapped when he was a child.
"Machine Gun Preacher," R: Marc Forster ("Quantum of Solace") directs Gerald Butler as a minister who crusades for Sudanese children forced to become soldiers. Also stars Michelle Monaghan.
"Killer Elite," R: Jason Stratham, Clive Owen and Robert De Niro star as members of Great Britain's Special Air Service who attempt to rescue their mentor taken captive.
"Dolphin Tale," PG: Charles Martin Smith directs Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, Kris Kristofferson, Harry Connick Jr. and Frances Sternhagen in a story inspired by a true event where a dolphin loses its tail in a trap and a prosthetic appendage is created, becoming an inspiration for persons with special needs.
Two Popcorn Boxes out of Three Popcorn Boxes