Raising Helen

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
Raising Helen Movie Poster Image
Parents recommend
Light drama with some appealing moments.
  • PG-13
  • 2004
  • 119 minutes

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 8 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.


Tense and sad moments.


Sexual references and non-explicit sexual situations.


Brief strong language.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters smoke and drink.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byhelenmirrenrox May 26, 2011


Good message. Being strong, trusting, moving on and good love.
A bit iffy. Some kisses, sugestive outfits (bikinis and bare chests) and a couple almost make lov... Continue reading
Adult Written bywonder dove May 24, 2013

Nice movie with good messages!

Raising Helen is a good family movie for kids 11 and up. I like the messages throughout about having to eventually grow up, take responsibility and realize that... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byMickeyhank13 December 4, 2019
Teen, 15 years old Written byShinjo April 9, 2008

I enjoyed this movie...

This movie is pretty good...though there are a few sexual scenes that weren't appropriate for kids my age. Has a pretty good plot that keeps you intereste... Continue reading

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.

Talk to your kids 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

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