Can a woman really have it all? That's the central question of I Don't Know How She Does It, a domestic comedy hitting theaters Friday. Sarah Jessica Parker plays Kate Reddy, a 40-something superwoman who's (barely) juggling the demands of motherhood, marriage, and career. Of course, the same question was at the heart of Sex and the City, the HBO comedy in which Parker played Carrie Bradshaw, a 30-something woman struggling to balance love, friendship, and her job. Does Parker's latest Carrie-esque character work?
It's Carrie redux — but Parker rises above it: Kate, played affably by Parker, obviously echoes Carrie Bradshaw, says Michael Rechtshaffen at The Hollywood Reporter. And, yes, the sitcom-like parenting gags and direct-to-camera monologues evoke TV shows like Sex and the City. But Parker's "unforced, amusing" physical comedy and deft handling of the "heavier, more introspective dilemmas" make this conventional film enjoyable.
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Carrie's back — but it doesn't work: Not only are the characters similar, says Michael Phillips at the Chicago Tribune, but much of the film's script relies on voice-over musings — "whisking us back in spirit to the comparatively carefree days of Parker in Sex and the City." Though the actress' "comic and dramatic technique is formidable," the shallow, frictionless film has a "puddinglike consistency" and an iffy aftertaste. Factor in Pierce Brosnan's performance as a "neutered version of Big," and this is not a worthwhile update of Carrie Bradshaw's life.
It's time for Parker to retire Bradshaw: A severe case of "post-Carrie Parkeritis" infects I Don't How She Does It, says Stephen Holden at The New York Times. In the 13 years since Sex and the City premiered, the appeal of the "hyperkinetic cheer and self-absorption" that Kate and Carrie share has "all but evaporated." With this exhausting film, the actress has officially squeezed every last drop of freshness from the role that made her famous.
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