Monday, June 24

Screen scenes

Raising Helen

Raising Helen Directed by Garry Marshall Buena Vista

Director Garry Marshall has partially redeemed himself to his
glory days of “Pretty Woman” with his latest creation
“Raising Helen." Helen Harris (Kate Hudson) leads every
shallow woman’s fantasy; she has a nice home, a well-paying
job and an impeccable wardrobe. As luck would have it,
Helen’s dream life soon takes a 180-degree turn when she
becomes the sole guardian of three children after her
sister’s fatal car accident. She’s then forced to
transform from super chic to super mom. Jenny (Joan Cusack),
Helen’s other sister and the real Supermom, is especially
bewildered by the guardianship decision of her late sister and
makes it her personal mission to prove Helen is anything but right
for the heavy responsibility. As the film meanders its way through
Helen’s adjustments, one cannot help but sympathize with a
woman who must give up her career and snazzy Manhattan lifestyle
for a run-down apartment in Queens and a job as a used-car
dealership receptionist. Then again, the job does pay $17.50 per
hour, which could make her the highest-paid person in Queens
““ or at least at the dealership. Also convenient is
Helen’s ability to enroll the children in a Lutheran private
school, sans money, religious devotion and most impressively, a
waitlist. These conveniences are exactly what make “Raising
Helen” only a partial redemption for Marshall. Though the
plot is nothing noteworthy, the characters mange to fill
distinguishable movie personality types. Cusack particularly shines
as the insecure and neurotic housewife who garners the most laughs.
She is so on top of her motherly game that she already disciplines
her unborn child when it kicks at inappropriate moments. The
characters are genuine, and surprisingly, the syrupy moments are
handled pretty well, mostly due to Hudson’s reliable knack
for making otherwise corny lines believable. She holds up the film
with seamless comic timing and dramatic weight. The budding romance
between Helen and the school’s principal and pastor, Dan
Parker (John Corbett, better known as Aidan from “Sex and the
City”), is kept to a satisfactory minimum. Marshall knows how
far to take it without turning the situation into something the
Lifetime channel would produce. Though “Raising Helen”
inevitably will have its critics, it is nevertheless a good
heart-warming film that doesn’t succumb to most of the usual
clichés expected of its genre.

-Laurie Lo

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