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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

I Don't Know How She Does It

By
Kurt Jensen
Source: Catholic News Service


Sarah Jessica Parker and Greg Kinnear star in "I Don’t Know How She Does It."

NEW YORK (CNS) -- There's a small pro-life moment of sorts tucked inside "I Don't Know How She Does It" (Weinstein), but it's quickly swallowed up in the sentimental goo of this gentle film about a wife and mother struggling to succeed in high finance.

Momo Hahn (Olivia Munn), the super-efficient and unemotional assistant of investment banker Kate Reddy (Sarah Jessica Parker), announces early on that she has no intention of being saddled with marriage and children, then unexpectedly finds herself pregnant. She hints that she's considering not having the child (abortion is not mentioned but can be inferred).

Kate launches into a spirited defense of motherhood, but the moment is interrupted by one of her many domestic crises with architect husband Richard (Greg Kinnear) and their young son and daughter. The father of Momo's child never makes an appearance.

Momo blithely concludes that although having a baby feels like a mistake, "maybe my baby will turn into Justin Bieber. He started as a mistake. Now he's a billionaire."

Director Doug McGrath and screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna, working from the novel by Allison Pearson, create a gentle upper-crust fantasy world of wisecracking friends, warm parents, the occasional understanding boss and picture-postcard views of Boston and New York.

The film tries to be about a lot of things and ends up being about nothing in particular. No single crisis rises to the level of anything more than a speed bump.

Kate has a jealous sniping rival at work in Chris Bunce (Seth Myers), rival mothers Wendy Best (Busy Philipps) and Janine LoPietro (Sarah Shahi) at her daughter's school, and the potential for an adulterous romance with new client Jack Abelhammer (Pierce Brosnan), but when she insists on making time instead to be with her husband and children, it turns out she can have it all—unlike in the real world for many women—even when she passes off a store-bought pie as her own for the school bake sale.

The film contains a fleeting reference to abortion, frequent crude and crass language and fleeting profane language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
Kurt Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.





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Monica: The circumstances of St. Monica’s life could have made her a nagging wife, a bitter daughter-in-law and a despairing parent, yet she did not give way to any of these temptations. Although she was a Christian, her parents gave her in marriage to a pagan, Patricius, who lived in her hometown of Tagaste in North Africa. Patricius had some redeeming features, but he had a violent temper and was licentious. Monica also had to bear with a cantankerous mother-in-law who lived in her home. Patricius criticized his wife because of her charity and piety, but always respected her. Monica’s prayers and example finally won her husband and mother-in-law to Christianity. Her husband died in 371, one year after his baptism. 
<p>Monica had at least three children who survived infancy. The oldest, Augustine (August 28) , is the most famous. At the time of his father’s death, Augustine was 17 and a rhetoric student in Carthage. Monica was distressed to learn that her son had accepted the Manichean heresy (all flesh is evil)  and was living an immoral life. For a while, she refused to let him eat or sleep in her house. Then one night she had a vision that assured her Augustine would return to the faith. From that time on, she stayed close to her son, praying and fasting for him. In fact, she often stayed much closer than Augustine wanted. </p><p>When he was 29, Augustine decided to go to Rome to teach rhetoric. Monica was determined to go along. One night he told his mother that he was going to the dock to say goodbye to a friend. Instead, he set sail for Rome. Monica was heartbroken when she learned of Augustine’s trick, but she still followed him. She arrived in Rome only to find that he had left for Milan. Although travel was difficult, Monica pursued him to Milan. </p><p>In Milan, Augustine came under the influence of the bishop, St. Ambrose, who also became Monica’s spiritual director. She accepted his advice in everything and had the humility to give up some practices that had become second nature to her (see Quote, below). Monica became a leader of the devout women in Milan as she had been in Tagaste. </p><p>She continued her prayers for Augustine during his years of instruction. At Easter, 387, St. Ambrose baptized Augustine and several of his friends. Soon after, his party left for Africa. Although no one else was aware of it, Monica knew her life was near the end. She told Augustine, “Son, nothing in this world now affords me delight. I do not know what there is now left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled.” She became ill shortly after and suffered severely for nine days before her death. </p><p>Almost all we know about St. Monica is in the writings of St. Augustine, especially his <i>Confessions</i>.</p> American Catholic Blog The Church really is my mother, too. She isn’t a vague maternal force for a generic collection of anonymous people. This Mother truly nurtures us—each one of us. And for those of us who are baptized Christians, the Church has actually given birth to us on a spiritual level.

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