Raising Helen


Directed by: Garry Marshall
Written by:Jack Amiel, Michael Begler
Starring: Kate Hudson, John Corbett, Joan Cusack, Spencer Breslin, Helen Mirren, Hayden Panettiere
Released: June 3, 2004
Grade: B-

I think I finally put my finger on it.  When it comes to romantic comedies, I suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder.  After 20 minutes, I was looking around, rolling my eyes, glancing at my watch and wishing I knew how long the film had to go.  Raising Helen is not a terrible film by any means but how can one sit through something when you know exactly how’s it going to end?  Some like this predictability but sadly I do not.

Allow me to set the scene.  Young twenty something Helen Harris (Hudson) has her “dream” job.  She works as an agent at an exclusive modelling studio and from what I saw, there isn’t a single person in the business who doesn’t thinks she’s the best.  Each night she attends exclusive parties and if lucky, drags some beautiful male model back to her snazzy New York apartment.

One afternoon, Helen is dining with her friends at a swanky restaurant (Sex And The City style) and gets a life changing call.  Her sister Lindsay and her husband Paul were killed in a car accident.  At the reading of the will, Helen is in for a further shock.  She has been left custody of their three children, Audrey, Henry and Sarah.  This infuriates Helen’s other sister, Jenny (Cusack), who has children of her own and think she’s a much better mother.  Helen is reluctant herself but decides to follow Lindsay’s wishes and takes on the responsibility.

You know where this is going, don’t you?  Helen tries her best but it becomes very overwhelming.  She loses her job, has to move to a cheaper apartment and has no social life.  Boohoo.  Luckily for her, she finds a new love – the principal of the local Luthern school, Pastor Dan Parker (Corbett).  He’s great with kids and together they overcome many hurdles.  There’s more to it than this and I haven’t given it all away but you get the picture.

Kate Hudson is at her sweetest but she can be so much better.  Three years ago she earned a well deserved Academy Award nomination in Almost Famous and there you’ll find Hudson at her best.  John Corbett is trying to capitalise on his new found stardom (following My Big Fat Greek Wedding) but strikes out.  Is there really chemistry there?  They look more like fun friends than a romantic couple.

Director Garry Marshall has the romantic comedy down pat.  Marshall films include The Princess Diaries, Runaway Bride, The Other Sister, Pretty Woman and Beaches.  If you like what I speak of, this film is for you.  If not, forget it.