Raising Helen

Raising Helen may be about a young single woman taking in sister's children, but as its title implies, it is more about the Helen character coming to grips with a new outlook on life and become mature and responsible in a short amount of time. Helen Harris (Kate Hudson, Le Divorce, Alex and Emma) works for a posh modeling agency, and gets to wear expensive, flashy clothes, go to hip clubs and restaurants, and live a life that is pretty fun. This changes when her sister dies, and the will leaves her three young children to Helen, baffling Helen and her other sister Jenny (Joan Cusack, Looney Tunes: Back in Action, School of Rock). Jenny is already a mother, and a good one at that. Helen has no inkling on what to do.

This is probably one of Hudson's better roles recently. After a great start in Almost Famous, she's appeared in a string of bland roles in mediocre movies. Her romantic comedy roles are beginning to get annoying, and while Raising Helen is part romantic comedy, it is also about somebody growing up. Raising Helen is still too predictable of a film to do it any good, but at least the script Hudson a little more opportunity than her endeavors. It's standard Hollywood formula at work here, mixed in with standard happy Garry Marshall (The Princess Diaries, Runaway Bride) formula, all combining to make a bland, instantly forgettable film.

With Audrey (Hayden, Panettiere, Joe Somebody, The Affair of the Necklace), Henry (Spencer Breslin, The Cat in the Hat, The Santa Clause 2) and Sarah (Abigail Breslin, Signs) now in tow, Helen needs to change her life and quickly. They all move into a small apartment in Queens (oh how could she!), and Helen quickly loses her job because of the parental responsibilities she must assume. Thankfully, with the help of a bunch of friendly neighbors and the hunky Pastor Dan (John Corbett, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Serendipity), everybody knows that Helen has what it takes to make it. The path to this success is another overused Hollywood convention that screenwriters Jack Amiel and Michael Begler (The Prince & Me), working off a story by Patrick J. Clifton (Son in Law) and Beth Rigazio include in their script.

Audrey is entering adolescence, and takes a liking to the wrong boy. Sarah cannot remember how to tie her shoes. Henry used to love basketball, now he never plays. Helen must tackle these problems and fail spectacularly. Then, something will happen, she'll lose the kids, and realize just how much she loves and needs them. At this point, she'll try again, this time with confidence and gusto to solve these problems, and she'll succeed, and everybody will be happy. It's no secret that the film will go this route. Marshall is not aiming to do anything new or different. He just wants to make a story that people will like. Raising Helen may not get this far, but it comes pretty close.

Haro Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 59 minutes, Rated PG-13 for romantic issues involving teens.

Back to Movies