Raising Helen (2004) A new theme is emerging in chick flicks. You could hear it, softly, at the end of "Mona Lisa Smile," and it gets a few… 2004-05-28 PG-13 PT114M Comedy John Corbett Kate Hudson Joan Cusack Felicity Huffman Helen Mirren Touchstone Pictures
Movie Review

Raising Helen (2004)

MPAA Rating: PG-13
Kate Hudson, Raising Helen | 'HELEN' KNOWS BEST Panettiere and Hudson help raise each other
Image credit: Raising Helen: Ron Batzdorff
'HELEN' KNOWS BEST Panettiere and Hudson help raise each other
EW's GRADE
C+

Details Release Date: May 28, 2004; Rated: PG-13; Length: 114 Minutes; Genre: Comedy; With: John Corbett and Kate Hudson; Distributor: Touchstone Pictures

A new theme is emerging in chick flicks. You could hear it, softly, at the end of ''Mona Lisa Smile,'' and it gets a few decibels louder in Garry Marshall's Raising Helen, a winsomely formulaic domestic comedy that says that women can have it all -- but they really shouldn't try to. Helen (Kate Hudson), an assistant at a New York modeling agency, loves the midnight party life. Then fate intervenes. One of her sisters is killed, and in the will the sister specifies that her three kids -- 15-year-old Audrey (Hayden Panettiere), 10-year-old Henry (Spencer Breslin), and 5-year-old Sarah (Abigail Breslin) -- should all be entrusted to Helen's care.

Holy responsibility! You'd think that ''Raising Helen,'' in the let's-pretend-I'm-not-a-glorified-sitcom-pilot tradition of ''Three Men and a Baby'' and ''Jersey Girl,'' would depict Helen's new life with a twinge of hardship. But the conflicts she faces all melt away like butter. After bidding goodbye to her chichi career, she moves her new family to a four-bedroom flat in Queens, lands a job as a secretary at a used-car lot, and commences a flirtation with a local pastor (John Corbett). Hudson's sunny, ringlet-tossing appeal fits snugly into the film's happy-homemaker ideology: She makes caring for three kids she barely knows look downright glamorous. ''Raising Helen'' does offer a lame, eleventh-hour gesture at nudging Helen toward a token version of her old career, but for women in the audience who are thinking of starting families, the film's real message is clear: Don't try this at work.

Originally posted May 26, 2004 Published in issue #768 Jun 04, 2004 Order article reprints