Raising Helen Review

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Helen Harris (Hudson) is living the perfect carefree singleton life in New York, when her sister and brother-in-law are killed in a car accident. Helen is left with her sister's three children - and finds that she must choose between the life she loves and the life she must lead.


The latest urban fairy tale from Pretty Woman's Marshall sees the director continue his descent into underwritten schmaltz at the expense of genuine wit and warmth. This time, Hudson is Manhattan gal-about-town Helen, plunged into surrogate momhood when her sister is killed. So far, not so cheery.

What follows are the trials suffered by Helen and the kids as they wrestle with their new circumstances. It's not all doom and gloom, but therein lies the problem as Marshall struggles to combine the sombre and comedic elements. The result is a forced marriage that looks great, raises the odd smile but ultimately fails to convince.

Still, top marks to Joan Cusack for her excellent supporting turn; commiserations to John Corbett as one-dimensional objet desir Pastor Dan; unhappily saddled with the most tragic line to reach mainstream film for years.

This is two hours of unrelenting schmaltz, all the more unpleasant for its dependence on stereotypes (mothers are frumps, while childless characters are hard-faced bitches). Hudson deserves better.