As far as heartwarming comedies go, this one has all the parts necessary: the heart, the warmth, and the comedy. At the outset, the storytellers get the heart commiserating with three grieving children—Audrey (Hayden Panettiere), Henry (Spencer Breslin), and Sarah (Abigail Breslin)—when their parents are killed in a car accident. The heart warms as the kids' supercool young aunt gives up her exciting career, and the perks that come with it, to take on the uncool role of the orphaned kids' guardian. The chuckles come easily, even in the predictable moments, as you watch dazzling Helen Harris (Kate Hudson) grow into her new skin.

Helen's choice to take the journey from self-centeredness to selflessness is what distinguishes this film's heroine from those in director Gary Marshall's other romantic comedies, Pretty Woman and The Princess Diaries, where the focus is on the leading lady's needs and wants.

Two God-sent cheerleaders come to Helen's aid as she undergoes her drastic makeover. Those raising Helen are her oldest sister and supermom Jenny (Joan Cusack), who has no problem raising anyone, even her unborn child, and a hunky Lutheran pastor played by John Corbett in the same way he played the hunky fiancé in My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

Although predictable in places, the romantic dramedy represents Hollywood's refreshingly realistic correction of the 20th century feminism: It is possible for unexpected, ill-timed motherhood, with all its emotional and financial hassles, to gratify a woman in a way unsurpassed even by a successful career in the fashion industry, a Manhattan zip code, and lenient sex life. Helen soon learns—as all people raising children do—that she can't have it all. Manhattan gives ...

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Raising Helen
Our Rating
3 Stars - Good
Average Rating
(not rated yet)ADD YOURSHelp
Mpaa Rating
PG-13 (for thematic issues involving teens)
Directed By
Garry Marshall
Run Time
1 hour 59 minutes
Kate Hudson, John Corbett, Joan Cusack, Hayden Panettiere
Theatre Release
May 28, 2004 by Touchstone Pictures
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