Charming and Uplifting
Release Date: May 28, 2004
Starring: Kate Hudson, Joan Cusack, John
Corbett, Hayden Panettiere,
and Helen Mirren
Audience: Teenagers and adults
Rating: PG-13 for thematic issues
Runtime: 113 minutes
Distributor: Touchstone Pictures/Buena
Vista/Walt Disney Company
Director: Garry Marshall
Executive Producer: Mario Iscovich and Ellen H.
Producer: Ashok Amritraj and David
Writer: Jack Amiel and Michael Begler
Address Comments To:Michael Eisner, Chairman/CEO
Buena Vista Distribution Co.
(Walt Disney Pictures, Caravan, Hollywood, Miramax, and Touchstone Pictures)
Dick Cook, Chairman
The Walt Disney Company
500 South Buena Vista Street
Burbank, CA 91521
Phone: (818) 560-1000
Helen Harris (Hudson) works at a fashion modeling agency. It’s an exciting job that affords her a nice apartment and a fast-paced social life. When one of her sisters dies in a car accident, Helen is given custody of her sister’s three children. Both Helen and her surviving sister Jenny (Cusack) are surprised at the choice. Helen is free-wheeling and irresponsible, while Jenny already has a thriving family of her own and would have been the most obvious choice for guardian.
Helen moves from Manhattan to Queens with the children. She quits the modeling agency to work at a used car dealership. They find a private Lutheran school to attend, and the principal, Pastor Dan (John Corbett), becomes Helen’s love interest and a father figure to the recently orphaned children, who are still in a lot of pain. Pastor Dan is a very likeable character who exhibits care and compassion. He sets a good example for the students at his school, as well as for Helen. This positive portrayal of a Protestant Christian figure is a big plus for the movie.
Joan Cusack adds depth to the story. Her Jenny character is uptight and made uncomfortable by Helen’s vividness. She feels perennially upstaged by her younger sister, and the audience sympathizes with her simultaneous jealousy and criticism of Helen. The sensitive direction by Gary Marshall also helps immensely.
RAISING HELEN is not an original story, and sometimes the formula peeks through the scenes. Also, at just under two hours, it’s a little long and could have used some judicious editing in the final act. Still, RAISING HELEN is a charming, ultimately family-friendly comedy with a strong, positive depiction of a Christian pastor. Watching the children cope with their parents’ death may bother some older children.
The story of RAISING HELEN is not original, but it is well done, mostly because of the skilled actors and sensitive direction by Gary Marshall. There is a smattering of foul language and some light innuendo. At just under two hours, the movie may feel a bit long. Still, RAISING HELEN is a charming, ultimately family-friendly comedy with a strong, positive depiction of a young, honorable Christian pastor.