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6 - Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.cam

Don't care 'How She Does It'

No Oscars for
movie magic

Sarah Jessica
Parker in another
self-centered film
By LEAH BURGIN
Senior Arts Editor
"I Don't Know How She Does
It" is to movies what White Peo-
ple Problems is to the Internet:
The meme can
be funny, it can **
be poignant,
but in the end, I Don't
it gets annoy-
ing. Similar Know How
to the endless She Does It
Tumblr streams
bemoaning how At Quality16
far away a com- and Rave
puter charger is The Weinstein
or how someone Company
had too much
food for lunch,
"I Don't Know How She Does It"
focuses on the seemingly endless
day-to-day "problems" in Kate
Reddy's (Sarah Jessica Parker,
"Sex and the City 2") perfectly
normal life.
Like most people in this world
who have multiple commitments,
Kate struggles to find a way to
juggle the different spheres of her
life, be it her fast-paced financial
career, planning birthday parties
for her two adorable children or
finding time for romance with her
equally adorable hubby Richard
(Greg Kinnear, "Baby Mama").
While the film explores these
realistic issues most people have
to deal with, it does so in an unre-
alistic way.
"I Don't Know How She Does
It" takes away the universality
of balancing one's life and makes
it a feat only Kate can perform
successfully. In addition to Kate

"You didn't see me in 'Mamma Mia!,' did you?'

bizarrely popping out of frozen
scenes to address the audience
with cheesy remarks on situa-
tions, the fourth wall is broken
frequently and disjointedly by
"Office"-esque asides. These bar-
rages come from Kate's babysit-
ter Paula (Jessica Szohr, TV's
"Gossip Girl"), assistant Momo
(Olivia Munn, "Iron Man 2"), best
friend Allison (Christina Hen-
dricks, TV's "Mad Men"), work
enemy Chris Bunce (Seth Meyers,
TV's "Saturday Night Live") and
rival Wendy Best (Busy Philipps,
"Made of Honor"), who all gush
over how unbelievable Kate is and
how they can't understand how
she keeps it all together.
These asides are apoor artistic
choice, as they rely on a heavy-
handed approach to discuss the
film's key themes without any
attempt at subtlety. They empha-
size the one-dimensional nature
of the supporting characters but
can also be quite amusing - espe-
cially those delivered by Meyers

- or impactful, like the points
Hendricks's character brings up
to demonstrate the inequality of
women in the workplace.
One particularly illustrative
example Hendricks uses is the
difference between a man and a
woman leaving work to pick up
a sick child - a man is hailed as
a loving, caring hero of a father
while a woman in the same situ-
ation is considered unorganized,
disobedient and too emotional.
For 20-something females who
may soon enter the workplace
and start a family, this is scary to
think about. This commentobrings
into sharp relief that these are
issues all working moms face, and
they face them every day. Even
though everyone else in the movie
thinks Kate is special, she isn't.
It's because of the unfairness
of these double standards that
the relationship between Kate
and her project partner Jack
Abelhammer (Pierce Brosnan,
"Mamma Mia!") is so refreshing.

While there is, initially, some
sexual tension between the two,
Kate and Jack ultimately develop
a friendship - with Jack call-
ing her Bill for who knows what
reason - during their long hours
spent together working on a pro-
posal. In an uncommonly por-
trayed dynamic, Jack and Kate
are equals, not a Good Old Boy
treating a female colleague like
a secretary or sex object. Their
relationship doesn't go the other
way either, with Kate losing her
femininity to become a "bro."
While Kate and Jack have an
enlightening friendship, their
interactions can't save the rest of
the film from the trite dialogue,
overused situational humor and
general blandness that perme-
ate the story's my-life-is-hard-
so-pity-and-revere-me attitude.
If anything, "I Don't Know How
She Does It" really only proves
one thing - Pierce Brosnan is the
only human alive who can make
bowling look sexy.

This summer, the
"Harry Potter" film
series came to its
dramatic conclusion with the
much-anticipated final install-
ment _
"Harry
Potter and
the Death-
ly Hallows:
Part 2."
Maybe
you heard
about it. PHILIP
Since its CONKLIN
release, the-
film has
been the subject of a certain
amount of 2012 Oscar buzz,
which is warranted consider-
ing its critical and commercial
success.
The film performed bet-
ter at the box office than its
seven predecessors. It holds
the record for biggest opening
weekend, is the third highest-
grossing film of all time world-
wide (the next highest-ranking
Potter film is 2001's "Sorcerer's
Stone") and holds the all-time
record for highest-grossing
opening day. It was also widely
heralded by critics, earning
a score of 96 percent on the
popular online film review
aggregator Rotten Tomatoes
("Prisoner of Azkaban" is next
highest at 91 percent).
To add to the film's Oscar
chances, the Academy has a
penchant for awarding Oscars
for sentimental reasons. Al
Pacino's Best Actor win in 1993
for "Scent of a Woman" and
Hal Holbrook's Best Support-
ing Actor nod for 2008's "Into
the Wild" were both recogni-
tions of brilliant careers, not
necessarily brilliant individual
performances. And no film
could be more sentimental than
the conclusion to the cross-
geherational, culture-defining
"Harry Potter" series.
Despite all this, "Deathly
Hallows: Part 2" will not win
the Best Picture Oscar. It will
probably be nominated, but
it won't win. And even those
critics who praised it so highly,
even the diehard fans of the
film, surely would admit that
it's hard to imagine a film like
this one winning Best Picture.
It just doesn't seem right.
It's because the Academy
doesn't give awards in the
major categories to films that
aren't "serious," in their stuffy,
conservative definition of
that word. "Serious," to them,
means films that aren't ani-
mated, comedies or targeted at
a young audience. And "Harry
Potter" is a prime example of a
film that the Academy doesn't
find to be "serious," and doesn't
take seriously. If "Harry Pot-
ter" were an eight-part series
about the Holocaust, it would
be a shoe-in for every major
award this Oscar season.
Take the 2011 Oscars. "The
Social Network" and "The
King's Speech" had battled
pretty evenly in the awards
shows leading up to the Oscars.
But when it came to Oscar
night, "King's Speech" beat
out "Social Network" in every
major category in which they
were both nominated - Best

Picture, Director and Actor.
This didn't happen because
of either film's relative quality.
I think "The Social Network"
was a better film than "The
King's Speech" (and so did the
Golden Globes, if that legiti-

mizes my opinion at all). It's
because "King's Speech" fits
the model of what the Acad-
emy considers a "serious" film
better than does "The Social
Network." It is an uplifting
story of a man overcoming
overwhelming odds, starring
well-established actors, with a
conventional narrative struc-
ture. "The Social Network," on
the other hand, is a film about
and for the youth, with an edgi-
er visual style and more adven-
turous narrative structure.
This misappropriation of
Oscars can be summed up thus-
ly: Regardless of a film's artistic
merit, the Academy will not
consider films outside of their
aforementioned narrow-mind-
ed, arbitrary notions of what is
"serious." Films within these
strict parameters are compared
based on merit, but anything
,outside of them is ignored.
This is the reason animated
films are not given their due at
the Oscars. While the Best Ani-
mated Film category assures
that animated films will be rec-
ognized at the Oscars, it also
marginalizes them, implying
they are inferior to live-action
films. In the history of the
Academy Awards, only three
animated films have ever been
nominated for Best Picture:
"Beauty and the Beast" (1991),
"Up" (2009), and "Toy Story
3" (2010) - a fact that is even
more shocking when you con-
sider the number of great ani-
mated films that have come out
just in the last 20 years (all the
Pixar films, "The Iron Giant"
and Hayao Miyazaki's films).
While the recent increase in
animated film representation
in the Best Picture category
seems encouraging, it becomes
less so when you consider the
increase two years ago to 10
nominees.
The Academy
is probably full
of Slytherins
anyhow.
Comedies also fall short of
the Academy's strict conditions
for approval. A comedy, clearly,
cannot be "serious." The only
comedy to win Best Picture
in the last 30 years is "Shake-
speare in Love" (1998).
To name all the worthy
candidates since then would
be an undertaking too ambi-
tious for this column. Suffice
it to say that comedy gets no
respect. No matter how funny,
well-crafted or well-written
a comedy is, it will still be an
underdog to every halfway
decent drama.
Clearly, many worthy films
are not getting their due at
the Oscars. We can only hope
that, preferably in the next few
years, the Academy of Motion
Picture Arts and Sciences will
remove itself from the stuffy,
narrow-minded rut it has
become stuck in, and, disre-

garding a film's genre or target
demographic, judge films only
on their value as a work of cin-
ematic art.
Conklin is sitting on his couch
waiting for Oscar season. To join
him, e-mail conklin@umich.edu.

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RELEASE DATE- Tuesday, September 20, 2011
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