Raising Helen

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Raising Helen
Review (5/10)
(By Brendan Cullin)


In Raising Helen, Kate Hudson plays Helen Harris, a young, beautiful, successful and most importantly single, model agency assistant living in the Big Apple. She lives life a bit on the wild side and does so quite happily until her life is dealt a drastic blow when her beloved sister and husband suddenly pass away. They leave their three young children, Audrey (Hayden Panettiere), Henry (Spencer Breslin) and Sarah (Abigail Breslin) to be raised by the somewhat undisciplined Helen, who must now change her wild ways and become the mature adult that she has avoided becoming for many years. The question arises - is it Helen who is raising the children or the children who are raising Helen?

Raising Helen is a movie that can simply be classified as mediocre. I never found the movie as funny as it probably wanted to be, although there were a few scenes that deserved a quiet chuckle (the used car commercials and the Devo dance). I never really found that the movie pulled on the old heart-strings but it was definitely a sad moment when the parents passed away (it is sad for the kids, we never really get to know the parents). The budding relationship between Pastor Dan (John Corbett) and Helen was totally unbelievable. As much as we would like to believe that a beautiful young lady would fall for a rather average looking man of the cloth who could barely skate, well, I just don't see it happening. But despite that, I found their on-screen moments lacked the chemistry to make the relationship in any way believable or interesting. The relationship ended up being more of a distraction than a catchy side-story.

Luckily, Raising Helen isn't a total flop. The three children for whom Helen must care and quite adorable and all three do a fine job. A couple of supporting characters, including Helen's neighbour Nilma (Sakina Jaffrey) and her older, more serious, sister Jenny (Joan Cusack) turn in excellent performances. Cusack particularly stands out in a scene where Jenny confronts one of the children in a hotel room with her boyfriend.

Finally, we have Kate Hudson. I can confidently say that were it not for Kate's beautiful smile and superb personality gracing the screen, this movie would have stunk. Kate proves in this movie that she has the potential to someday carry a movie and become a genuine Hollywood sweetheart. Were it not for her smoking habit in the movie, I would probably be jumping on a plane right now and asking Kate to leave her beanpole, bearded husband for greener pastures. To tell you the truth, I really am confused by the whole smoking thing and what that says to young women who might go see this movie. Why smoking? I know they wanted to show Helen's bad habits but could they not have come up with something a bit less disgusting than smoking? Like perhaps gambling, heavy drinking, picking her nose or even murder. I really can't stand the whole smoking obsession that exists in Hollywood.

Nevertheless, I will conclude by saying Raising Helen is not a dramatic, romantic comedy that will leave its mark in the annals of movie history. It is too long. It is not nearly as romantic, dramatic or comedic as it aspires to be. And Paris Hilton makes a cameo appearance. But with that being said, there are a few stellar performances in the movie, including Kate Hudson and that gives us hope for what Kate will provide for us in the future, given the proper role. Unless you are a huge Kate Hudson fan or a sucker for romantic comedy type of movies, you might consider passing on this one or at least waiting for video.

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