Raising Helen

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Movie Review by Neils Hesse

Starring: Kate Hudson, John Corbett, Joan Cusack, Hayden Panettiere, Spencer Breslin

Director: Garry Marshall

Helen (Kate Hudson) is a typical American uptown working girl. She works for a top modelling agency as a personal assistant to the owner played perfectly by Helen Mirren, lives in a posh apartment and has a great social life. She is also a cool auntie to her sisters’ kids. However Helen’s life gets unexpectedly turned upside down when one of her sisters dies and leaves her sole custody of her three kids. Jenny (Joan Cusack), who is Helen’s other sister, is a full time mother and resents the fact that Helen was chosen as guardian to the children instead of her. She also expects Helen to fail miserably at being a mother.

Helen has to re-evaluate her life and decides to quit her job and relocate to a different neighbourhood to accommodate her newly acquired kids. It’s here she meets Pastor Dan (John Corbett) who is the headmaster at the school that Helen finds for her kids, and he starts to make moves on her, (it’s okay he can as he is a pastor not a priest!), to which she responds to with uncertainty.

The transition from being cool auntie Helen to mother proves to be harder than Helen could have ever imagined, and this film tries to explore the ups and downs that Helen and her family go through during this process. A confrontation between Helen and Jenny after a problem with Helen’s teenage daughter proves to be the breaking point for Helen. She does exactly what Jenny expected her to do but then she does something that nobody, not even she could have ever imagined!

The acting excels with Kate Hudson’s portrayal of Helen bringing real warmth and vulnerability to her character, while Joan Cusack is perfect as the career mum portraying the seemingly bad side of parents that is essential to instil discipline and as such is actually not bad. John Corbett is very light and cool as the pastor and Helen Mirren is excellent as the typical sharp anti-kids career woman.

The direction from Garry Marshall is good but the film does not really work as a comedy, but there is good basic drama and consequently it makes a good family movie rather than a movie to take your date to.

Worth the trip to the cinema for the family.

3 out of 6 stars