Raising Helen

  • Review Date: October 11, 2004
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2004
  • Running Time: 119 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Light drama with some appealing moments.
  • Review Date: October 11, 2004
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2004
  • Running Time: 119 minutes





What parents need to know


Tense and sad moments.


Sexual references and non-explicit sexual situations.


Brief strong language.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters smoke and drink.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie has some strong language. Characters drink and smoke. Helen's smoking, imitated by one of the children, is evidence of her carefree lifestyle; we see her wearing a nicotine patch after she has to begin to be more responsible. Similarly, as the fun aunt she approves of a fake ID for an underage girl; as the parent, she does not. And before she has the children, she has casual sex, but afterward she is ready for a more complete relationship. An underage couple plan to have sex but are stopped in time. Some members of the audience will find the movie's portrayal of public school to be unfair. A strength of the movie is friendship between diverse characters.

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What's the story?

Helen (Kate Hudson), a young woman who thinks she has everything she wants, including a glamorous job in a modeling agency. She gets to go to parties and wear chic clothes and be the cool aunt to her sisters' children, the fun one who thinks that fake IDs are great and shows that you never really have to grow up. But then Helen's sister and brother-in-law are killed in an accident and it turns out that they left their three children not to the older, stable, potpourri-loving earth mother sister Jenny (Joan Cusack) but to Helen. Helen is willing, if a bit shell-shocked. But for the first time she has taken on some problems that can't be solved with a dazzling smile. The three children show her how messy, exhausting, painful, more exhausting, expensive, scary, difficult, and then even more exhausting life can be. She will think of it as an unbearable burden. She will have to leave Manhattan for Brooklyn and take time from her job for an emergency involving shoelace-tying. She will make mistakes and let people down. She will worry that she is not up to the challenge. And she will get a chance to find out whether she is.

Is it any good?


This latest take on a familiar setup is not a romantic comedy, as suggested by the trailers and commercials. RAISING HELEN is more of a light drama with some comic and tragic moments. It has a solid script and a strong cast led by the deliciously twinkly Kate Hudson, with Helen Mirrin as her boss, Joan Cusack and Felicity Huffman as her sisters, Sakina Jaffrey as one tough bat-wielding mother of a neighbor, and John Corbett providing guidance, support, and some romantic interest as the Lutheran pastor who is principal of the school. That puts it way ahead of garbage like Cop and a Half and Curly Sue.

Hudson is fine as Helen in the early scenes, enjoying her own deliciousness as mistress of her universe. What's more fun to watch here is the way Hudson holds up as Helen's world falls apart around her. Helen isn't sure she can give or deserve the kind of affection required by the children and by the pastor. Helen must also be willing not to be completely loved every single second. Hudson shows us as an actress that is a lesson she has already learned.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how they think about plans to care for children in case of tragedy. Why did the children's parents choose Helen instead of Jenny?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:May 28, 2004
DVD release date:October 12, 2004
Cast:Hayden Panettiere, John Corbett, Kate Hudson
Director:Garry Marshall
Studio:Buena Vista
Run time:119 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:thematic issues involving teens

This review of Raising Helen was written by

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About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 15 years old Written by♥fo... April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

Great movie!

This is a great movie for girls 13 and up. I watched it at a sleepover with two of my friends and I loved it! There is some implied sex, Helen unbuttons a guy's shirt, then they go into his house and close the door anda teenager goes to a hotel after the prom with with another boy. The S word is said once or twice. Other then that, it's an awesome movie! I laughed, almost cried, and truly enjoyed it.
Teen, 15 years old Written bypurplecatroo April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

This was a great movie!

Raising Helen was great! There was a good amount of sexual content but it was handeled in a moral way, especially twords the end. It was a movie that made you laugh cry and watch a second time. Because of some mature issues though I wouldnt recomened this for pre-teens.
Adult Written bysassy007 April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age


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