Garry Marshall’s preachy Raising Helen is not being billed as a fairy tale, but it exists in a fantasy New York City no one has ever seen before. Helen Harris (Kate Hudson) works for the nicest “bitch” in the world (Helen Mirren) at a top Manhattan modeling agency that employs mothers and water cooler delivery men, goes to modeling shows where the women can’t strut and the men all have at least 10% body fat, and goes to dorky clubs with inexplicably impossible door policies. When Helen’s Devo-loving sister dies somewhere in the film’s painless off-screen space, she’s left with three kids to raise: 15-year-old bourgeoning hoochie Audrey (Hayden Panettiere), ten-year-old wisecracker Henry (Spencer Breslin), and five-year-old cutie Sarah (Abigail Breslin). After one too many screw-ups, Helen loses her cushy executive assistant position and has to take a job at a used car lot as a secretary making more money ($17.50 an hour) than anyone else living in Queens, where she now lives among the equally underprivileged. While Jack Amiel and Michael Begler’s screenplay for Martha Coolidge’s The Prince & Me was critical of the misogynistic fairy tales promised to young girls, their Raising Helen script is largely contemptuous of single young women, particularly those of the Sex and the City variety. Instead of taking dead aim at the modeling industry, this innocuous, egregiously wholesome defense of family targets Carrie Bradshaw, err, Helen instead. This party girl doesn’t know it yet, but birthin’ babies and finding a good man (preferably a priest: Sex and the City‘s John Corbett) is infinitely more fulfilling and acceptable than popping bubble wrap with a hot male model after a night on the town.
- Garry Marshall
- Jack Amiel, Michael Begler
- Kate Hudson, John Corbett, Joan Cusack, Helen Mirren, Hayden Panettiere, Amber Valletta, Felicity Huffman, Hector Elizando
- Slant is reaching more readers than ever before, but advertising revenue across the Internet is falling fast, hitting independently owned and operated publications like ours the hardest. We’ve watched many of our fellow media sites fall by the way side in recent years, but we’re determined to stick around.
We’ve never asked our readers for financial support before, and we’re committed to keeping our content free and accessible—meaning no paywalls or subscription fees. If you like what we do, however, please consider becoming a Slant patron.
You can also make a one-time donation via PayPal: