I Don’t Know How She Does It: And I Don’t Care

by Ethan Alter September 16, 2011 6:00 am
<i>I Don’t Know How She Does It</i>: And I Don’t Care

A poster child for First World Problems syndrome, I Don't Know How She Does It asks moviegoers to invest in the trials and tribulations of a well-off investment manager who shares a lovely Boston townhouse with her architect husband, their two young children (the eldest of whom attends private school) and a part-time nanny to boot. Considering the troubled state of the economy these days, the amount of privilege on display might be too big a hurdle for some viewers to get over. At the same time though, it's worth remembering that families like this one do still exist in America (in smaller numbers, to be sure) and some of the challenges this particular character faces -- including juggling work and family time, making her marriage work and being there for the kids when they need her -- cut across social and economic divides. Would a movie about an exhausted mom forced to work two jobs in order to support her malnourished kids and out-of-work husband whose unemployment benefits just expired be a more up-to-the-minute reflection of what's going on in the country right now? Of course, but good luck trying to get a major Hollywood studio to greenlight it. If you're in the market for that kind of movie, you're better off waiting until Sundance comes around in January.

The Family Tree: Not An American Beauty

by Ethan Alter August 26, 2011 3:58 pm
<i>The Family Tree</i>: Not An American Beauty

Sam Mendes and Alan Ball's 1999 Oscar winner American Beauty has a lot of sins to answer for, one of which is the subsequent existence of movies like The Family Tree. Like its predecessor, this irritating "ain't the suburbs wacky?" dark comedy tells the story of a dysfunctional family that's made up of the tightly-wound, sex-obsessed fortysomething patriarch Jack (Dermot Mulroney), his bitchy wife Bunnie (Hope Davis) and their snarky adolescent daughter Kelly (Brittany Robertson). There's even a religious nut in the form of their teenage son Eric (Max Thieriot), who has recently found God and now spends much of his time shooting the shit (as well as a few firearms) with his pastor, Reverend Diggs (Keith Carridine). It's all so familiar that while watching the film, you may feel as if you stepped into a time machine that's transported you back to that pre-iPod, pre-Netflix era of the late '90s.

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