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RAISING HELEN (PG-13) (2004)

Touchstone Pictures

Official Site

Director: Gary Marshall

Producers: David Hoberman, Ashok Amritraj

Written by: Patrick Clifton, Bethany Rigazio, Jack Amiel, Michael Begler

Cast: Kate Hudson, John Corbett, Joan Cusack, Hayden Panettier, Spencer Breslin, Abigail Breslin, Helen Mirren



Okay, so this particular story has been done before. Many, many, many times before. Despite its sigh-worthy cookie-cutterness, though, Raising Helen is still an enjoyable film. Yes, I know, it sounds beyond preposterous that I would actually endorse such an obvious collage of clichés, but I really was entertained. Maybe I’m just a sucker for Kate Hudson’s 100-watt charm, but that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Hudson plays Helen Harris, executive assistant to one of New York’s top modeling agents (Mirren) and all-around party girl. Whereas her two older sisters raise suburban families New Jersey, Helen raises Manhattan hell in pair after pair of stiletto heels. This glamorous life is turned upside-down when Helen’s closest sister and brother-in-law are caught in a fatal car accident, leaving behind three very stunned children. To further complicate matters, Audrey (Panettier), Henry (Breslin), and Sarah (Breslin) are willed to Helen’s care.

Helen is quickly forced to shift gears between cool aunt to responsible mom, and it ain’t fun. She has to give up her posh career, pad, and friends in exchange for a job at a used car lot and an apartment in Queens. All things happen for a reason, though, and it seems that bumping into good-looking Pastor Dan Parker (Corbett) is one of them. Helen also gets the chance to discover the warm-fuzzies associated with motherhood as well as the discipline required to maintain a mom status. Although she receives bounteous help from her “Super Mom” sister (Cusack), Helen still has to discover what it means to be a mom on her own.

I’m not making this movie sound very appealing, am I? Well you’re just going to have to take my word for it, then. I’m not normally one of those typical “chick flick” gals, but this movie was so cleverly written that I was—and still am—willing to make an exception. There were definitely some “yeah right” moments in the movie, but what movie doesn’t have them? Raising Helen may not exactly be a hard-hitting work, but then again, it never aspires to be. As a light-hearted family film with lots of humor and a smattering of life lessons, this movie is as fun as it is predictable. While I don’t think it will ever win any awards, I definitely wouldn’t mind watching it on my next flight Europe.

— Emily Younger


hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

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