A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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?
- In theaters: September 16, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: January 3, 2012
- Cast: Greg Kinnear, Kelsey Grammer, Pierce Brosnan, Sarah Jessica Parker
- Director: Douglas McGrath
- Studio: Weinstein Co.
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 91 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sexual references throughout
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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