Sep 26, 2011
Book Movie Review by Marielle Lorenz
My friend Mel and I decided to do our own book club through her new blog. As avid book readers, we wanted to continue the “Oprah’s book club” tradition and promote, read and have a quorum amongst us and her followers with the commitment to then come back and review our impression of the book vs. the movie.
The first book suggested, was a light easy to read title that had the movie version coming up. The book is called “I don’t know how she does it” by Allison Pearson. We had both seen the trailers and it seemed it had a “sex & the city” meets “working girl” kinda of feeling, so we agreed to start the book club with this title. Her followers agreed, so the reading began.
We both read the book quite fast; there was a predictability in its writing but it had its fun moments. The story was about a hard working heroine (like ourselves) and how difficult it is to be a working mother and be able to juggle work/personal life while staying sane and not letting the guilt eat much of however unbalanced her time was. It also touched on the male vs. female perception in positions of power, and how women still have to give double the effort to prove themselves in a man’s world.
With this premise, I was open to seeing how this was going to be visually expressed in a 1 ½ hour movie, even though the trailer was already showing me that they were taking some “creative license” and making it… more Americanized?
For you to understand what I’m saying if you have not read the book, let me give you a quick summary of the story (spoiler alert if you plan to read it):
The story centers on Kate Reddy, a list making financial analyst in London, working for a top prestigious firm, married to Richard the architect with two children: Emily a 4 year old and Ben an almost 2 year old. Kate is considered the “bread winner” of the family and she is always traveling as part of her job role, making her feel guilty of her time spent away from her family. Kate has a great single co-worker friend who tends to sleep around and have no commitment; then there is Jack Ablehammer, Kate’s new attractive client from NY who she ends up kissing at some point, which creates a distance with Richard, who ends up leaving for two weeks since he’s tired of being the mom, who then comes back. There’s Clark her boss, whose wife used to be a working woman herself, gave it up to be a mom, was dying (and died) of cancer: there’s Chris Bounce, the macho jackass of the company; there’s Momo a new Harvard graduate associate who starts at the firm with a middle eastern descent, works with Kate, gets humiliated by Bounce, which gets Kate fed up, which she plans to bring him down with Momo, which then made her realize that it was ok to give up the job to be with her family (after seeing how much she loves Richard), which made her plan a successful idea that gets Bounce fired, Momo promoted and ends the book having her be a happy mom with her own business in development. Ohh…and her slutty friend becomes preggers, decide to keep the baby and also become a successful biz owner. The End. There are also a bunch of side characters, but they are not worth mentioning since they just add fluff and embellishment to both the book and the movie.
Then I went to see the movie on opening weekend.
I already knew that the screen version of Kate was from either NY or somewhere in the northeast, and that the client was also close and that she was married to Richard and that Momo was also part of the movie. I knew this from the trailer. I also knew that Kate was Sarah Jessica Parker (a.k.a. Carrie Bradshaw) and that Richard was the sweet Greg Kennear and that the dashing client was the Brioni wearing Pierce Brosnan, and that the red haired from mad men was also there (was she the best friend from work?) and that Momo was the biggest surprise since they cast a new up and coming TV-to-Theater actress named Olivia Munn, who does not look middle eastern at all…still after this rational dissertation I was still game to see this film. After all, it is a chick flick and I’m always up for one.
Now, what I didn’t expect was for the screenwriter and director to take a different route and make this a “women-can-have-it-all” kind of movie: I simply didn’t buy it. First, I like SJP as Kate. I can see that. I can see Greg Kennear as the hubby as well- I can see him be an architect if he decided to quit Hollywood type of guy- so ok. The mad men lady (Cristina Hendricks) was this lawyer friend that did nothing throughout the movie and ends up dating the hunky client Jack at the end (where was this in the book?) and Momo ends up being the one pregnant…huh???? And for the happy ending…she stays at the firm, Richard starts making lists (come again?) and they lived happily ever after, the end.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am all for balance, and I do agree that there are women out there in the work force that have been one of the lucky few whom have demanded some time to dedicate to their families while staying in their position of power. But if I wanted to see this, I would have bought myself a ticket to a women’s conference. My point is that the book sold me on a premise that it is OK to choose family over a demanding career; that it is ok to reinvent yourself for the benefit of your kids and come up strong. Why did the screenwriter decide to water it down…which makes me go to the studio behind the movie, the Weinstein Company, which is run by Harvey Weinstein, married to one of the most successful business women in fashion (Catherine Chapman of Marchesa) which is also the current boss of SJP (she’s the Creative director at Halston, which she owns) who then makes me believe that this is simply a business venue to make money using SJP at a discount rate, cutting production costs making the character out of Boston, the Client in NY and really not making a big deal about the short flight time Kate dedicates to see her client and be away from her kids. Which then trick women like me who liked the book, liked SJP and end up paying the full movie ticket price for a movie that has a very different outcome than the original story.
Then again, I should have known. I should have read the sign of the 20% super low review score, of the very vague trailer…I don’t know. Maybe it was Brosnan in his Brioni suit (who can say no to a former James Bond), maybe was the nostalgia of Sex in the City, who knows…all I can say is that the movie was disappointing for not staying true to its premise.
So, my recommendation is: if you are still interested in reading something lighthearted, read the book and skip the movie. And for those who read the book and saw the movie…what are your thoughts?