Beauty and the Briefcase

Movie review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Beauty and the Briefcase Movie Poster Image
Popular with kids
Duff hunts for a mate in a bit sexed up, but sweet TV movie.
  • NR
  • 2011
  • 86 minutes

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 10 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

While Lane nearly loses everything she’s worked for -- both personally and professionally -- when her many lies catch up with her, she learns her lesson about toying with others’ trust and emotions and finds that it’s impossible to go wrong when you follow your heart. Some iffy messages about a woman's need for a man are part of the story.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Lane is smart, professional, and driven to succeed, often at the expense of those around her. She sets aside others’ feelings in her efforts to date as many guys as possible in a short time. Her actions prove she’s willing to do anything to follow her dream, though she does learn -- in the end -- that being realistic and flexible about those dreams is the key to true happiness.


Lots of passionate kissing, and an implied sexual encounter (the guy leaves the woman’s apartment the next morning), but nothing is shown. Characters make frequent references to sex, including talking about where they’ve had sex, whom they’d like to have sex with, and the desire to “get laid.” Men and women comment on each other’s appeal, calling individuals “sexy,” and “hot,” and checking out butts.


Marginal language like “ass,” “butt,” “freakin’,” “bastard,” and “hell” are used intermittently. “Oh my God” is a common phrase.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking -- beer, champagne, and mixed beverages -- is central to any social gathering, but no one suffers ill effects from it.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this TV movie is littered with sexual references in all forms, from passionate kissing to chats about previous sexual encounters, and in one case, the implication of a short-term partner’s overnight stay (though nothing beyond making out is shown). The main character’s mission to date as many guys as possible has iffy messages for teens about responsible relationships. Sporadic language (“hell” and “ass,” mostly) is another concern, but none of this is probably new to the teen viewers the movie is geared toward. The main character lies and deceives her coworkers for the sake of her article, but the eventual exposure of her actions forces her to take responsibility for what she’s done.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byell57 May 14, 2020

cute movie

I really liked this movie, Hillary Duff has many funny scenes. Kinda cheesy but in a good way.
Adult Written byYvetted March 6, 2015

Basically, the bad outweighs the good

I was disappointed with the portrayal of women as shallow, incompetent and deceptive. The film features an impressive cast, yet suffers from slipshod writing an... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bylolagirl August 17, 2016

Great story!

This movie was great, but had lots of sexy talk. I would recommend ages 12 and up for this. if your younger these things will flyover your head.
Kid, 11 years old June 14, 2014

free is for me

I've seen this movie a thousand times but, i've only seen it because it was for free on youtube. I thought it was not pg more like pg-14. I thought it... Continue reading

What's the story?

Aspiring fashion journalist Lane Daniels (Hilary Duff) is so discouraged with the dating scene that she’s toyed with the idea of switching careers to expand the pool of potential mates. When she pitches the idea as a story to an editor at Cosmopolitan magazine, she’s hopeful this could be not only the big break her career needs, but also the fast track to true love. Lane lands a job at an investment firm and starts her quest to find the perfect guy, but her interest in the project wanes when an exotic stranger named Liam (Chris Carmack) sweeps her off her feet... and away from the office. Continuing to see him threatens her prospects at Cosmo, and keeping up the charade for her new boss, Tom (Michael McMillian), proves increasingly challenging as time passes, leaving Lane at a crossroads between her personal and professional lives.

Is it any good?

Mature teens shouldn’t have a problem putting the movie’s frequent sexual references, language, and adult drinking into context, but this same content makes it inappropriate for tweens. Similarly, teens can reconcile Lane’s self-motivated behavior (embellishing her qualifications to get a job, and dating coworkers without regard to their feelings, for example) and recognize the personal journey she makes toward happiness.

Based on the book Diary of a Working Girl by Daniella Brodsky, BEAUTY AND THE BRIEFCASE stars a very grown-up Duff, who really delights in her role as an ambitious writer and hopeless romantic who often finds these two sides of herself at odds with each other. Lane’s evolution from a career-driven diva to someone who’s willing to compromise for love is a good reminder that happiness falls in the balance between two people’s ideas of perfection.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can discuss the movie’s messages about dating and relationships. Can you relate to Lane’s desire to speed-date lots of guys to find Mr. Right? Do you think this method would be successful for you? Do you think this movie portrays healthy romantic relationships? Why or why not? 

  • Teens: What qualities do you look for in a boyfriend or girlfriend? How do you go about meeting people you’d like to date? Is finding a partner a priority for you right now? How do your career aspirations compare to your hope for love?

  • Lane changes jobs to meet more men, which implies that certain careers are male-dominated. Do you agree? If so, which ones? What challenges do women face in breaking into these careers? Is gender equality in the workplace still a concern today? What can be done to level the playing field?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love romance

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