I would really, really like to see Kate Hudson playing someone different. Because in "Raising Helen" she plays the same person as in her last few movies (including "How to Lose A Guy In Ten Days"), which were all unbelievably mediocre. "Raising Helen," is a renter for when you are really bored of watching "Friends" reruns. This movie is saccharine sweet; you feel like you being manipulated into liking it. It doesnít work.
"Raising Helen" is about Helen Harris, an assistant to the owner of a modelling agency who is living in the fast lane until her sister dies in a tragic accident. The sister inexplicably leaves her three children (One pouty teen, Audrey, and two pouty pre-teens, Henry and Sara) to the clueless Helen - a mystery since their other sister Jenny (Joan Cusak) is a super mom. After Helen loses her job because Sara, the youngest child, hops onto the modelsí runway, causing chaos, they move to an apartment in Queens, go to a Lutheran school (which provides one of the funniest scenes in the movie), and eventually have life pretty figured out. When something falls apart (as it always does), and things go wrong, the children move to their Aunt Jennyís house. Aunt Helen makes things right by learning tough love, and the kids move back to her and they live happily ever after.
Now, there are a few things wrong with this movie. Why in the world would Helenís sister choose the irresponsible Helen to look after her three kids, instead of the super-responsible super-mom Jenny? They make a big deal of the reason, but itís sort of weak.
The acting is suitable, I guess, with John Corbett as the pastor who asks Helen out. The kids provide good performances. Sara is cute, Henry is a wiseacre, and Audrey is adolescent and grumpy. Kate Hudson seems to be waiting for a funny line, but she pulls it off as best she can. Who really saves the show is Joan Cusak, as Super-mom Jenny, whose character is hilarious with lines (to Audreyís slouchy boyfriend) like "Iím sure you arenít a bad person, but this behaviour is very, very bad.")
This movie is kind of annoyingly sweet, but pretty funny at times. Except for Joan Cusak's performance, youíll never remember this movie once you walk out of the theatre; itís an entertaining, forgettable, film.
This is Natalie Johnson for "Movie Magazine."
© 2005 - Natalie Johnson - Air Date: 11/04
Rated PG-13, 119 minutes, USA