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Raising Helen /

Rated: PG-13

Starring: Kate Hudson, Abigail Breslin, Spencer Breslin, John Corbett, Audrey Wells, Hayden Panettiere

Directed by: Garry Marshall

Produced by: Mario Iscovich, Ellen H. Schwartz, Ashok Amritraj, David Hoberman
Written by:
Jack Amiel, Michael Begler
Distributor: Touchstone Pictures


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      After the release of Almost Famous, Kate Hudson has led a trail of mediocre romantic comedies. All of these have had their fair share of redeeming qualities, but with all said and done, have not been worth the hassle of seeing. Despite my granting it the same grade as Le Divorce, Alex and Emma, and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Raising Helen is a small step up for Hudson. Like her previous three projects, it is an instantly forgettable chick-flick with a few amusing moments, ultimately failing because of a clichéd ending. However, this movie actually has wit, unlike the other three. I’m tempted to recommend it, but upon reflection, it would be even harder for me to say that it earns such a merit. It is still very nice to watch Hudson climb out of the hole that she has been digging herself into for about the last two years, though. Maybe her next outing will bring actual quality.

     With each movie she’s in, I am truly pulling for Hudson. This is because the reasons for the failures of the movies she stars in are not results of her. She is a bubbly, charming performer, utilizing every bit of material that is given to her (which usually isn’t much). Her work is what saves most of the hell-sent creations she participates in, and I suppose in doing this, she is helping modern Hollywood. Such a title may seem honorable, albeit silly, but it is completely Hudson’s own doing, too. She is what we critics call a bad script-picker, lacking the ability to predict the resulting quality of a motion picture before it is made. Each time I see her act, I always feel as though she’s victimizing herself to the wrath of terrible writers. Jack Amiel and Michael Begler penned the screenplay for Raising Helen, and even though their dialogue serves as a cut above for our leading lady’s vocal chords, it is nothing extraordinary.

     In Raising Helen, Hudson plays Helen Harris, a likeable executive for a modeling agency, who becomes a mother overnight. And no, it isn’t because she is knocked up by one of her pretty-boy clients. Instead, she receives full custody of her two nieces and nephew when her sister and brother-in-law die in a car accident. Her other sister, Jenny (Joan Cusack), was expecting to take in the children, seeing that she is an experienced parent, and Helen is a bit of a flake. But the kids’ parents had their reasons for doing what they did. As the three’s new mom, Helen must manage her life and money more carefully. There is, of course, romance in the movie, too. After a while, Helen and Pastor Dan (John Corbett), the principal of the Lutheran school she sends the children to, develop a relationship. A lot of Raising Helen is actually quite heartwarming and some of it is funny. This is not to say that it isn’t abundant in downtime, though, carrying a near two-hour running length.

     The only other movie listed on director Garry Marshall’s resume that I’ve seen is the truly awful Princess Diaries. From what I’ve observed, he is not all that bad at what he does, finding somewhat of a correct balance between liveliness and sentimentality in his work. However, it is not hard to conclude that, after looking at all of the movies he has taken part in, he has a certain way of cursing productions with potential. Despite this, I am still not yet convinced that he should stop doing what he does.

      With not much else worth even considering viewing, Raising Helen should make a delightful matinee for hungry moviegoers. It certainly doesn’t promise much more than it delivers. Nevertheless, if Kate Hudson were to find herself just one great script, the entire world would be a lot better off. It would make me feel as though writing reviews on all of her mediocre pictures has been worth it. I still have not lost hope in just this happening, and it is what keeps me attending the films that she stars in. If only Dreamworks would’ve left Almost Famous on the shelf until now. Then, and only then, would Hudson impress me. Yeah; that would be the day.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews (5.29.2004)

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