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Raising Helen

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Raising Helen

Starring: Kate Hudson, John Corbett
Director: Garry Marshall
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 115 Minutes
Release Date: May 2004
Genres: Comedy, Romance

*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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