I Don't Know How She Does It

Movie review by
Sierra Filucci, Common Sense Media
I Don't Know How She Does It Movie Poster Image
Frantic working mom tale doesn't have much teen appeal.
  • PG-13
  • 2011
  • 91 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 6 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Supports the idea that a woman's career is important and valuable, and so is her family. Shows the challenges and rewards of balancing work and family. Some stereotyping of male and female roles played for humor.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The main character is a successful financial manager with a supportive, loving family. She struggles to balance the challenges of work and family, including battling sexism at work, constant demands from family, and a frazzled schedule that leaves her always feeling rushed and behind.


Lots of discussion about marital sex and relationships. A married couple prepares for sex, though it doesn't happen. A few scenes of passionate kissing, with the implication that sex will happen. Discussion about a couple's lack of sex. A humorous written and spoken reference to oral sex. Several instances of strong sexual innuendo played for humor. A scene takes place in a strip club, but only the feet of a female dancer are visible.


A few instances of "hell," "ass," "a--hole," and "oh my God," plus several uses of "s--t" -- in one scene the word is repeated about 10 times in rapid succession.


Several examples of product placement: Bisquick, Pellegrino, Delta, Lumber Liquidators, North Face.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Multiple scenes of social drinking by adults -- wine with dinner, beer at bars, martinis at restaurants. One joke about mixing vodka and Xanax as a way to cope.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this book-based comedy about a mom (played by Sarah Jessica Parker) balancing work and family is more likely to appeal to adults than kids and teens. There's a fair bit of sexual innuendo and discussion about sex, both in and out of marriage (including a humorous reference to oral sex), but aside from a husband and wife kissing and hugging, no actual sexual activity is shown. Profanity isn't constant, though one scene has the main character repeating "s--t" multiple times. Teens who do watch will see mostly positive messages about the value of women in the workplace and the rewards of family life.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byJohnnyT January 14, 2012

I Don't Know How She Does It! WONDERFUL MOVIE

I honestly think "I Don't Know How She Does It" is a wonderful movie! From my review I would say children and young teens would be bored from thi... Continue reading
Parent of a 2-year-old Written byJill Murphy January 9, 2012

I wanted to like this but...

For an issue that is so relevant to today's working mom's, I was disappointed at the quality of the movie. The faux-interviews and talking to the came... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bykiwigirl13 January 22, 2021

eh..kinda boring

I mean, it’s not bad because of the content being too mature. Commen sense makes the sexual parts sound way worse than they actually are. A married couple just... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byBellaWills May 6, 2020

What's the story?

Kate Reddy (Sarah Jessica Parker) is a successful financial manager with two adorable kids, a fantastic townhouse, and a happy marriage. When her job kicks into even higher-than-normal gear after a big career win, Kate amps up her travel and work schedule, putting pressure on her easy-going husband (Greg Kinnear) and her two young kids. Under pressure from male colleagues but supported by her able assistant (Olivia Munn) and fellow working mom Allison (Christina Hendricks), Kate muddles through both work and home, juggling cowgirl-themed birthday parties, silent critiques from stay-at-home moms, and last-minute business trips, barely holding it all together. But when she misses out on one too many family occasions, Kate must make a decision about her career that could affect everyone.

Is it any good?

This is a decent entry into the collection of mom movies, managing to celebrate both motherhood and career. It can be hard to separate Parker from her character of Carrie in Sex and the City, though, especially when I DON'T KNOW HOW SHE DOES IT uses Kate's voice to narrate, mimicking the legendary HBO series' signature format. When the movie begins, you almost expect a bus to pass by and splash mud on Kate's adorable power suit. But as the film (based on Allison Pearson's best-selling novel) progresses, Kate distinguishes herself more from her single, childless, city-dwelling predecessor, fitting rather likeably into the heels of a frantic working mom. Her fellow characters are also likeable, and this makes the movie's flaws easier to bear.

Despite some uneven moments and annoying gimmicks (like freeze frames in which characters step out of the scene and address the camera), the story of Kate's thoroughly recognizable struggle to balance mommy guilt with individual pursuits rings (mostly) true. That said, the film balances humor with serious topics in a way that sometimes downplays the emotions involved -- like when Kate breaks down crying after missing a significant kid moment -- and this feels like a missed opportunity. The humor also doesn't always hit -- delivering smiles instead of laughs. Stereotypes about men and women run through the film, though the negative messages that are reinforced (men can't remember to replace the toilet paper) are balanced with more positive ones (Kate's husband ably picking up the kids from school).

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about balancing responsibilities. How does this film portray how adults manage home and work? Does it seem realistic? What are some of the challenges your family faces mixing work, school, and family responsibilities?

  • What is the movie's message about working women? About the responsibilities of childrearing? Does this movie challenge or reinforce gender stereotypes?

  • Talk about the relationships between women in this movie. Are they supportive? Are they realistic? What messages does the movie express about female friendships and conflicts?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love family movies

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