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Raising Helen (2004)

Helen help us.

Directed by:

Garry Marshall

Rating: 5/10

Running Time: 119 minutes

US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: PG

Country: United States

Since impressing audiences and critics alike with her name-making performance in 2000’s ‘Almost Famous’, Kate Hudson has somewhat disappointingly fallen onto the endless circuit of forgettable romantic comedies. In 2003 alone she appeared in three of the little blighters, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, ‘Alex and Emma’ and Le Divorce. She’s slowed things down a bit in 2004, appearing in just this one – ‘Raising Helen’ – but unfortunately she isn’t showing much sign of becoming a little more adventurous in her choice of roles.

As you might have guessed from the title, she plays Helen. She’s a dedicated follower of fashion, and is on the verge of being promoted to modelling agent with top agency Dominique’s (Helen Mirren, in case you’re interested, plays the silver-haired battle-axe Dominique). With the disposable income rolling in and nobody to spend it on but herself, life seems about as much fun as it can get – that is until her sister snuffs it in a car accident and she’s left to look after her three ankle-biters (Hayden Panettiere, Spencer Breslin and his real-life wee sis Abigail Breslin).

Of course, she’s hardly the first Hollywood character to be left “holding the baby”, so to speak. Diane Keaton did it way back in 1987 with ‘Baby Boom’, Adam Sandler did it more recently with 1999’s ‘Big Daddy’ and, in a movie particularly similar to this one (only with a fat guy in place of the waif-like Hudson), John Candy took care of Macauley Culkin and co in John Hughes’ vastly under-rated ‘Uncle Buck’.

‘Raising Helen’ offers neither an improvement nor an original spin on any of those movies, and I’m guessing won’t be remembered much past its release date. It’s a sweet film, and there are no major problems with Hudson’s performance (her scenes alongside Joan Cusack as her prudish sister are inevitably the best ones), but it’s just not sparky or funny enough to made the grade. It gets bogged down in sentimentality, wastes too much time on a chemistry-less romantic sub-plot (involving the drab John Corbett as an even drabber pastor), and has the constant feel of a sit-com shooting above itself.

Hudson is a good enough actress that she should one day again deliver the goods, but going by the latest offering we’ll need to wait a little longer yet.

It's Got: Paris Hilton clutching a dog that looks like a rat (must… avoid… obvious… comparison) and a beat-boxing waiter.

It Needs: Pastor Parker (Corbett) to be involved in a freak plummeting-elevator accident.

Alternatives:

Baby Boom, Big Daddy, Uncle Buck

Summary

Her character might be able to raise a gaggle of squealing kiddies but, if she wants to raise her profile back to where it once was, Kate Hudson will have to find better work than this.

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