This movie is really pretty bad on quite a few levels. It deals with a wreckless, crazy, party/career girl suddenly faced with raising three childred because her (apparently insane) sister "willed" the kids to the party girl instead of her uptight but reliable other sister. We're supposed to find this plausible. We do not. However, let's suppose we suspend that disbelief (surely it's no harder to do than believing Jennifer Garner could go from 13 to 30 in an instant...a far superior movie, by the way). We are nonetheless faced with a family that has lost not only its mother, but its father as well, in one horrible accident (funny, huh?) The kids do grapple with the grief a little bit, but most get over it pretty quickly so the movie can go back to being cute. I couldn't help but keep thinking of the horror these kids were enduring...losing both parents and having to move into a smaller abode in a city they DON'T know with an aunt they barely know. Didn't seem to bother them.
Kate Hudson, the cooky sister, gets the kids into a private, parochial school, headed by Paster John Corbett (late of MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING). Corbett is a fair enough actor and has charm, but we're supposed to believe that a man of the cloth who has dedicated his career to the church, would be interested in a non-believer, non-church goer like Hudson without having one tiny concern that if they became a couple, it would NOT look good for him in his congregation. But then again, aside from blessing some animals at a zoo, his religion is pretty much confined to the white collar around his neck.
When I say the movie is dishonest, that's why. It doesn't honestly portray the way people would behave. Many movies do this, but this movie wants us to believe it's making a statement about the power of love, our ability to change and grow, etc. etc. Bull!
The movie gets one star, except for the presence of the always outstanding Joan Cusack. We're used to her being a uptight, crazy character (SCHOOL OF ROCK jumps right to mind) but here she plays a tightly wound mother, who ought to be a big pain in the rear, but actually shows how motherhood wrenches sacrifices from us and how we make those sacrifices willingly. We see the idea that you aren't supposed to be the best friends of your kids...you're supposed to be their parents. Cusack is a totally believable mother. She acts the role with great specificity and invests her acting with more talent than much of the rest of the cast combined.
Of course, most people want to see this for the "charm" of Kate Hudson. Well, she's almost worn out her welcome. Like most others, I was captivated by her in ALMOST FAMOUS. I forgave her for being in HOW TO LOSE A GUY IN 10 DAYS (or whatever it was called) because she still was fresh and charming. But in LE DIVORCE, the reprehensibly boring ALEX & EMMA and now RAISING HELEN, her charm (which never seems to vary) has worn out its welcome. She might have some talent, but she badly needs a role to show some more sides of her character.
PS: Helen Mirren and Felicity Huffman are two more terrific actresses who appear in small roles, presumably for nice sized paychecks. Fans of them will have little to rejoice over here.
If pretty people, stories that involve displaced families and the ultimate awakening of a free-spirited thinker to the 'joys of motherhood' sans the trials of pregnancy, a bit of slapstick humor and a dab of sentimentality are the ingredients you desire for an evening of staring at the TV/DVD, then RAISING HELEN is bound to please. The story - the unlikely sister candidate for accepting motherhood upon the death of a sister/brother-in-law - has been done before and better, but with the pleasures … more
Kate Hudson wrestles with unlikely motherhood inRaising Helen, a comedy directed with the smooth professionalism of Garry Marshall, the man who brought us such cinematic fairy tales asPretty WomanandThe Princess Diaries. Helen (Hudson,How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days) is an adorable hipster whose swift rise up the fashion industry ladder gets sideswiped when she finds herself responsible for raising three children, left in her care by the untimely death of one of her sisters. It's a standard frivolous-girl-grows-up story with an uneven script, but solidly performed by Hudson, John Corbett (My Big Fat Greek Wedding), ever-sexy Helen Mirren (Calendar Girls), and especially Joan Cusack (In and Out,Addams Family Values), who takes an obnoxious, uptight suburban mom and makes her the movie's emotional core. It's a miracle of acting alchemy; Cusack is one of contemporary comedy's most crucial performers.--Bret Fetzer