out of 4
All-Reviews.com Movie/Video Review
|*Also starring: ||Joan Cusack, Helen Mirren, Hector Elizondo, Amber Valletta, Felicity Huffman, Abigail Breslin, Spencer Breslin, Hayden Panettiere, Kamilla Bjorlin, Ana Gasteyer, Alec Nemser||
Review by Susan Granger
2½ stars out of 4
Can a saucy, carefree Manhattan yuppie chick really find happiness as a
substitute mom to her sister's three orphaned kids in New Jersey? That's the
dilemma faced by Helen Harris (Kate Hudson), the ambitious assistant to the
owner (Helen Mirren) of a trendy modeling agency.
When Helen's sister and brother-in-law (Felicity Huffman, Sean O'Bryan) -
the "perfect Pottery Barn couple" - die in an automobile accident, no one is
more surprised than Helen that she's been designated as the children's guardian
- unless it's her other older sister (Joan Cusack), a suburban supermom who is
pregnant with her third child. Gamely, Helen tries the best she can but soon
realizes that she's not only lost her sister but also her job, her social life
and her sanity. Enter the local Lutheran pastor (portly John Corbett),
proclaiming, "I'm a sexy man of God." Which means Helen is soon trying to
balance a career and motherhood with a persistent suitor.
Veteran director Garry Marshall ("Runaway Bride," "Pretty Woman") teams
up with writers Jack Amiel and Michael Begler to find that predictable silver
lining behind every cloud that hovers over Helen, perhaps a bit too quickly and
too easily to build much dramatic tension.
Perky Kate Hudson ("Almost Famous") retains an irresistible effervescence
that's reminiscent of her mom (Goldie Hawn) without the giddiness. She's at her
best sparring with Joan Cusack's smug resentment. As the youngsters, real-life
siblings Spencer and Abigail Breslin are engaging, while Hayden Panettiere
embodies the angst-filled adolescent. Savvy Hector Elizondo scores as a car
dealer while Paris Hilton socializes. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10,
"Raising Helen" is a sweet, high-spirited 6. It's a frivolous, glossy,
feel-good story that's mildly amusing.
Copyright © 2004 Susan Granger
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