RAISING HELEN, directed by Garry Marshall, is a delight.
Helen, played to a “t” by Kate Hudson, is left three children to raise when her sister, their mom, as well as their dad, die in a car accident. Helen and her older sister Jenny both expect Jenny to be appointed the children’s guardian, but instead, it is the carefree fashion agent Helen who is chosen. Jenny feels rejected (even though she is pregnant and has two other kids) and Helen overwhelmed, but because of the letter her dead sister leaves her, she embraces the children.
They move from Jersey to Queens, Helen loses her job at the fashion agency, and takes a job at a used car dealership (the owner also played to a “t” by Hector Elizondo) she enrolls the kids in a Lutheran school and the pastor, played by John Corbett, falls for her.
It’s a little slow in the middle, but there are many genuinely good laughs and truths and the romance is not overplayed, nor the emotional jag from kids who are left orphans. The first better than average movie of the year for me.
Themes of grief, motherhood, letting go, embracing the new, risk, and the gift of life.
I really liked it, and so did the 13 other nuns who came to the screening with me!
(As did the audience… random “recruits” who were given free passes to get in. They were really “with” the story and you could tell by the laughs and chatter as people left that they enjoyed RAISING HELEN.)