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Raising Helen is a 2004 American comedy-drama film directed by Garry Marshall and written by Jack Amiel and Michael Begler. It stars Kate Hudson, John Corbett, Joan Cusack, Hayden Panettiere, siblings Spencer and Abigail Breslin, and Helen Mirren. It grossed $37,486,138 at the U.S. box office.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Garry Marshall|
|Produced by||Ashok Amritraj|
|Screenplay by||Jack Amiel|
|Story by||Patrick J. Clifton|
|Music by||John Debney|
|Edited by||Bruce Green|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Pictures|
|May 28, 2004|
Helen Harris (Kate Hudson) and Lindsay (Felicity Huffman) were raised by their oldest sister, Jenny (Joan Cusack), after their mother died when Helen was seven. Now Helen is very successful in the fashion industry, working as the executive assistant to the CEO of one of Manhattan's most prestigious modeling agencies, and has a nice Manhattan lifestyle which keeps her extremely occupied and content. But Helen's world suddenly changes when Lindsay and brother-in-law Paul (Sean O'Bryan) die in a car accident, leaving behind three children, turning everyone's life upside down.
Helen and Jenny are in shock when they discover Lindsay and Paul left Helen in charge of their three kids: 15-year-old Audrey (Hayden Panettiere), 10-year-old Henry (Spencer Breslin), and five-year-old Sarah (Abigail Breslin). Nobody expected Helen to be named guardian of the children, especially since Jenny was already a super mom with two children and a third on the way. But a letter left to Helen by Lindsay convinces her that she can take care of the children. And Helen decides to do it on her own terms, which means raising the children and maintaining her already fast-paced schedule. But as work and children begin to interfere, Helen quickly finds herself burnt out and disheartened by her responsibilities and Jenny's lack of faith in her parenting.
Despite her already hectic schedule, Helen finds the time to develop a genuine affection for her new dependents, as well as an equally genuine attraction to Dan Parker (John Corbett), the kids' school principal and local Lutheran pastor. Busy trying to appease the children and adjust to suddenly being a mom, Helen's concentration on her job begins to slip and she is fired from Dominique (Helen Mirren). Stuck between a rock and a hard place, she is forced to become a receptionist at a car dealership. Things begin to look better for her as she bonds with the children and their sexy principal, and finally begins to get the hang of being a mom. But Audrey, struggling to come to terms with her parents' death, begins to fall in with the wrong crowd and date the wrong kind of guy. When she disappears from the school prom with her new boyfriend BZ to go find a motel, Helen is forced to call in Jenny as back-up to search all over New York to find Audrey. Unable to confront Audrey and risk the girl's hatred, once they track her down, Helen turns the parenting reins over to Jenny. This makes Helen realize that she isn't cut out to be a parent and so she turns the children over into Jenny's custody.
Helen returns to her wild lifestyle full of partying and booze, yet feels much less fulfilled than she had been before she became responsible for the children. She begins to find herself dissatisfied and depressed and so returns to Jenny's house to beg her to let her take the children back home. She eventually convinces Jenny that she's finally ready to be a parent when she puts her foot down and shows Audrey who's boss. Jenny, who was listening to Helen talking to the children, still refuses to give the kids back to her. Helen leaves, and sits alone on a bench near a swing set. There, she is visited once again by Jenny, who gives her the letter that Lindsay had written for Jenny. Helen reads the letter, which explains that Lindsay decided to choose Helen because it's about choosing someone who is more like herself, someone who can really give the children the mother they really want. While watching out her window, Helen turns around with joy when the kids arrive, now hers.
The film ends with Helen, Dan and the kids walking along a pier, and Sarah sits on a bench and ties her shoes all by herself.
- Kate Hudson as Helen Harris
- John Corbett as Pastor Dan Parker
- Joan Cusack as Jenny Portman
- Hayden Panettiere as Audrey Davis
- Spencer Breslin as Henry Davis
- Abigail Breslin as Sarah Davis
- Helen Mirren as Dominique
- Sakina Jaffrey as Nilma Prasad
- Kevin Kilner as Ed Portman
- Paris Hilton as Amber
- Felicity Huffman as Lindsay Davis
- Sean O'Bryan as Paul Davis
- Amber Valletta as Martina
- Ethan Browne as Devon
- Michael Esparza as BZ
- Katie Carr as Caitlin
- Héctor Elizondo as Mickey Massey
- Larry Miller as Leo D'Leo
- Shakara Ledard as 'Tinka' (the model)
The film was shown at the 2004 Tribeca Film Festival. It was theatrically released on May 28, 2004. Before the film started, there was an animated short from Walt Disney Feature Animation titled Lorenzo, about a cat who gets his tail jinxed and comes to life. The film left theaters on September 9, 2004.
The film opened at number 4 on opening weekend, making $10.9 million. In North America, the film made $37,486,512 overall. In foreign countries, it made $12,232,099. The film made $49,718,611 in its entire run, on a $50 million budget, making the film a box office flop.
Raising Helen received mostly negative reviews from critics, as it holds a 23% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 128 reviews, with the site's consensus of the film: "As shallow and formulaic as a sitcom."