"I DON'T KNOW How She Does It" - built around the frazzled lives of a two-career couple - probably seemed funnier back when couples had two careers.
Or even one.
The movie is based on a book published seven years ago. That's 7 million lost jobs ago, and a couple of million foreclosures. Today, working couples lucky enough to be working couples aren't merely under pressure.
They're under water.
So the "problems" enumerated in "Don't Know" will look like appealing luxuries to many folks.
Let's break it down. Kate (Sarah Jessica Parker) is an investment banker who's just landed the plum job of pitching a new investment strategy to a handsome rich guy (Pierce Brosnan). Husband Richard (Greg Kinnear) is an architect busily working to make a pitch to further advance his career.
This leaves them with less spare time than they'd like, so when it comes to planning a child's birthday party, neither is sure who's responsible for securing the organic snacks (the movie's example, not mine).
Perhaps they could assign this problem to (wait for it) the maid.
That's right, "the help."
The underlying question seems to be this: What are the trivial problems of society's most fortunate people?
For Kate, it's sexism - she has a male antagonist at the office (Seth Meyers). She also gets grief from stay-at-home moms, who guilt her about store-bought pies.
Kate's career demands lead to tensions at home, and with her nit-picking mom (Jane Curtin). She has a lot to juggle, and so does director Douglas McGrath, who constructs busy parallel work/home narratives overcrowded with nonessential characters.
We don't know how SJP does it, but we know how McGrath does it - with a crapload of voice-overs. He even has a voice-over about another character's voice-over, possibly a movie first.
His technique preserves much of the cute writing of Aline Brosh McKenna, and gives this forgettable movie a frothy tone.
It's just not the right tone, not right now.