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Movie review: Raising Helen

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May. 2nd, 2004 | 09:38 pm
気持ち: working working
音楽: Love Me -Bz (j-pop)

What would you do if you were young and single, free of child rendering responsibilities, successful in your career, and suddenly you are asked to take care of three children? Garry Marshall (Director of “Runaway Bride” and “Princess Diaries”) looks at this situation in his latest film, “Raising Helen.”
Helen (Kate Hudson) is a free spirited, young successful modeling agent for one of the most prestigious agency companies. Not only is she the youngest of three sisters, but also unlike her eldest sister, she is the fun loving one. One part of her life that she finds to be very dear is her relationship with her sisters, more towards the middle one rather than the eldest one. Together, the three grew up without a mother, leaving the eldest to care for the other two girls.
One on particular day, she discovers that her dearest sister is caught in a life taking accident and her three children are made into orphans. Sadden by the loss of her dearest sister, she attends the hearing of the will and is surprisingly asked to be the legal guardian of the three children. She immediately is confused by why she was selected over her children bearing older sister. The lawyer hands each of the sisters a letter that was left by their beloved sister explaining the reasons for leaving the children with Helen. After reading the letter, Helen is compelled to take care of the children.
However, raising three children is not the easiest thing to do, as Helen soon learns. The teenaged daughter begins to hang out with the wrong crowd at school and begins making wrong choices for her academic life ; the middle and youngest children have a difficult time coping with the death of their parents. To make matters more challenging, Helen ends up losing her job because of her added parental responsibilities. How will Helen be able to prove to herself and to her eldest sister that she is capable of becoming the appropriate parent for the three children?
As a drama this film seemed to hold many realistic features of parenting to it. There were a few scenes that were a little farfetched, but ideally, the concept of instant parenthood is a difficult to swallow for anyone. Hudson was able to display this difficulty in her role. Through her acting, it is convincing to see how a person who was once free from the parental role is suddenly faced to chose between being the fun loving and “cool” aunt or being a hated disciplinarian for the safety of the children. Furthermore, teaming up with Joan Cusack is enough to display the full range of child rending. Cusack who is known to take on the “stressed out” woman roles, continue to portray the stressed out mother, completely disapproving of Helen’s choices and ability to parent.
This film is not completely drama because it is mixed in with a slice of comedy taking away the emotional feel of everyday challenges in the life of a parent. Furthermore, There were certain reality issues within the film that made it less convincing than it potentially could be. For example, how a person with no child rending experience, is able to suddenly take in three children and send them to a private school, as well as move without facing any financial difficulty, comes pretty hard to swallow. Though there is not much time spent on the relationship of both Helen and her sisters, the film is centered around parenting.
I did think this film had a lot of potential. Hudson was able to hold her character as a strong willed women with three children and effective displayed the difficulty of the parenthood. I did not, however, think that taking a comical look at death and parenting was ideal for a plot because usually children are not a happy go lucky as the film portrayed them to be. I believe that the director should have been more conscientious about such an issue and decide whether to make the film into a comedy or a drama and not try to mix the two. Nonetheless, for a mildly entertaining laugh, it would be worth watching.

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