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I Don't Know How She Does It

Frantic working mom tale doesn't have much teen appeal.
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2011
  • Running Time: 91 minutes

What parents need to know

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

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.

Violence
Not applicable
Sex

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.

Language

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.

Consumerism

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.

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.

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?

QUALITY

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).

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:September 16, 2011
DVD/Streaming release date: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

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Parent 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 this movie. But overall it is a wonderful movie!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Parent Written byreddiapermom September 27, 2011

Watch, then ask your teens how they feel about working moms.

For mid-teens and up, this movie has some strong starting points for conversation about family, working moms and sexual stereotypes. Is Kate, the mom in the movie, a good mom? What do kids think of working moms? Does this make them want to work outside the home? And I love the teen reviewer's comment below...how do they feel about her flirtation with her male co-worker? I am hoping to get my 14-year-old-daughter to watch...she follows fashion and thus is already a Sarah Jessica Parker fan. I think many teenage girls may also have formed some opinions about the work/mom balance just by watching their own moms and may be more interested in the movie than most adults would think. I'd love it if teen boys would give these issues a think, but that may be hoping for too much. That's a shame, because these are really important issues for every family that normally get no consideration at all in the movies.
Teen, 13 years old Written byVeronique148 February 15, 2012

hmmph

This movie is okay.Has some touching moments.If you want a random movie when nothing else is on this one will do.Deff something you dont watch everyday cause it will get annoying.
What other families should know
Great messages