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I Don't Know How She Does It: Gratingly Outdated Comedy About Working Mums
Kate (Parker) is a financial analyst with two kids and an out-of-work husband (Kinnear) that she has to juggle around her hectic, interstate work schedule. She tries to keep both sides of her life together as she powers through the biggest deal of her career while struggling with feelings of guilt for being so reliant on the babysitter and her smartphone.
Hendricks plays Allison, Kate’s best friend and a working single mother. Her role is pretty small but she does the best with her mediocre lines and is responsible for every single genuine laugh. While Parker’s take on the male-female double standards is gratingly self-absorbed and naive, Hendricks delivers her lines with a dash of good-natured irony.
You can’t laugh at Kate because she’s so earnest and unlike Allison, she isn’t in on the joke. She actually believes that the problem lies more with her inability to be the perfect superwoman rather than her firm’s dehumanizing work policies. Not to mention; it takes Kate the whole film to finally stand up for her rights, and even then she does it in a questioning tone with a bunch of cutesy thank-you's tacked onto the end. So basically, our protagonist is an image-obsessed, self-absorbed, spineless workaholic that we’re supposed to care about because she’s drunk on the joys of motherhood.
I Don’t Know How She Does It is pretty blatant propaganda for these aforementioned joys. It’s the film equivalent of having a gun put to your head by someone who is intent on getting you to understand that women are incomplete if they’re not mothers. If you’re the kind of person who’s never seen the appeal of kids, you’ll find the dissonance between Kate’s frazzled state and joyful words evidence of severe brainwashing.
In addition, the complete 180-degree-turn made by Kate’s assistant Momo (Munn) from anti-kids to pro-kids is nonsensical and just further solidifies the feeling that you’re being preached at. This preaching is already exasperated by the frequent interludes where the characters talk to the camera, usually about how amazing Kate’s juggling act is, in addition to the near-constant flow of voiceover narration.
However, the film’s worst offense is the sheer amount of stereotypes that it propagates. For example; all women want babies even if they think they don’t. Men are assertive while women roll with the punches. Women who like to bake are judgmental shrews. You name it, it’s in here and for a film that supposedly champions working mothers; it manages to thoroughly alienate every other type of woman. The cherry on top is the fact that not once is Kate’s privilege addressed. She’s white and rich and so is her husband; a little perspective would be nice.
What can you say about the seemingly unstoppable force that is Nicolas Cage that hasn’t been said before? A magnet for the most troubled, muddled and just generally exasperating films to hit cinemas in the last five years, his latest work in USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage does nothing to change his fortunes.
Despite being based on one a true story that has all the makings of a war epic, the Mario Van Peebles-directed USS Indianapolis bleeds all and any gravitas and emotion out of its incredibly dramatic source material.
The story goes as thus: the eponymous US Navy cruiser delivered the first parts of the atomic bomb that would go on to devastate Hiroshima, before being torpedoed by the Japanese navy, leaving some 300 of the 1000-plus crewmen dead and the rest stranded in shark-infested waters. Said sharks, along with dehydration and salt water poisoning, leave just over 300 survivors to be rescued.
At the centre of the ensuing hubbub is Cage’s Captain McVay, who many, very unreasonably, blame for the death of the 700 or so victims – so you see, it’s a very complex story, but one that very quickly descend into and exercise on how not to make a war film.
The occasional laughable CGI aside, Cage is oddly sedate, bordering on placid, in his role – yes, the central character is possibly the flattest element of the film, while seasoned actors, Tom Sizemore and Thomas Jane, are given little to chew on in their respective roles.
While starting exactly as one would expect a war film to, the wreckage part of the film turns into cheap disaster movie, before turning into a courtroom drama in the final act. It’s a muddle of a film that fails to really drum to the beat of McVay’s potentially brilliant arc as a firm commander that eventually buckles under the unjust pressure he receives back at home.
Bad CGI, a mammoth two hour-plus running time and Nic Cage can be forgiven, but what’s at the heart of this film’s mess is the script. Jumping from event to event, plotline to plotline, at a whim, with Cage’s soft murmured speech used to pave over the transitions, USS Indianapolis’s pacing is that of a film hurrying to stuff as many ideas and threads as possible – expect that’s not the case. Van Peebles tries so hard to build the layers of an epic, when, actually, all he needed to do was tell this simple but stirring story as it is.
Ludicrous, crass but also undeniably fun,Ted 2 - the sequel to Seth MacFarlane’s successful 2012 comedy, Ted –proves to be a more consistent and better drawn-out affair than its predecessor, even if the jokes – which there never seems to be a shortage of– don’t always land where they’re supposed to.
Picking up shortly after the events of the first film, Ted 2 is once again centred on best-buds and avid stoners, John Bennett (Wahlberg) and his talking teddy bear, Ted (voiced by MacFarlane) who, as it turns out, don’t seem to be living out their happily-ever-afters with the women in their lives. See, John has divorced the love-of-his-life, Lori (Kunis), and Ted, who at the beginning of the film shares his “I Do’s” with his human-bride, Tami-Lynn (Barth), is in constant clashes with his new wife.
Deciding that the best way to reconcile and put an end to all the bickering is to start a family, Ted reaches out to his best-friend for help; a decision which soon proves rather messy. However, Ted’s civil rights are soon called in to question by the government who wish to brand Ted as property as oppose to a living thing, leaving John and Ted with no choice but to turn to the rookie – and pot-loving- lawyer, Samantha (Seyfried) for some legal help in an attempt to prove that Ted is a living being with rights of his own. Hence the tagline ‘Legalise Ted’.
Endless pop-culture references and MacFarlane’s distinct brand of abstract toilet humour is once again the integral part of the story. While the first film lent most of its focus on Wahlberg and his romance with Mila Kunis – the actress was written out of the script due to her pregnancy with husband Ashton Kutcher – Ted 2 shifts the focus onto the talking teddy and his battle to be recognised, essentially, as a human.
The decision to shift proves to be a smart move, although the film does tend to take itself a little too seriously at times; in addition, Wahlberg – whose deadpan delivery is almost always spot on – seems to shine more in his secondary role.
Ted 2 is neither ambitious nor smart and its jokes are often offensive and pretty vulgar. Nevertheless, it’s a fun goofy kind of vulgarity that will ensure more box office success and probably even a third film.