Published May 01, 2004Helen Harris (Kate Hudson) has it all. She lives in a stylish Manhattan apartment, works for one of the hottest modelling agents in the city, has a closet full of incredible clothes, a schedule filled with fabulous friends, a model-perfect boyfriend and invites to all the hottest clubs.
After the unexplained death of her sister Lindsay (Felicity Huffman) and her husband, Helen takes over the roll of caregiver to Lindsay's kids: 15-year Audrey (Hayden Panettiere), ten-year-old Henry (Spencer Breslin) and five-year-old Sarah (Abigail Breslin). Helen struggles with all the aspects of her new life, from finding a new apartment (economics forces the fashionista to Queens) to locating a safe and appropriate school for the kids. All the while Helen is forced to mourn the loss of her sister and her carefree life, and deal with the strained relationship with her picture-perfect Suburban sister Jenny (Joan Cusack).
Despite the assistance of her love interest (and principal at the children's new school), Lutheran pastor Dan Parker (John Corbett), Helen is forced to deal with Audrey's budding sexuality and Henry and Sarah's behavioural changes due to the emotions involved in coming to terms with their loss.
All the ingredients that formulate a successful romantic comedy are present in Raising Helen. America's sweetheart Kate Hudson was perfectly cast in this role and Pretty Woman director Garry Marshall draws believable performances out of this all-star cast. But what restrains this film is a poorly written script.
The story awkwardly unfolds and none of the supporting characters ever seem realistically formed. As is often the case, little Abigail Breslin steals the show with her sweet and innocent dialogue. There are some hilarious pastoral- and religious-flavoured scenes that almost save the movie (I still giggle when I think about Pastor Dan's hockey team). Unfortunately these shining moments are not enough. (Touchstone/Buena Vista)