Raising Helen

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Raising Helen
Raising helen.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byGarry Marshall
Produced byAshok Amritraj
David Hoberman
Screenplay byJack Amiel
Michael Begler
Story byPatrick J. Clifton
Beth Rigazio
StarringKate Hudson
John Corbett
Joan Cusack
Hayden Panettiere
Spencer Breslin
Helen Mirren
Music byJohn Debney
CinematographyCharles Minsky
Edited byBruce Green
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures
Release date
  • May 28, 2004 (2004-05-28)
Running time
119 minutes
Budget$50 million[1]
Box office$49.7 million[2]

Raising Helen is a 2004 American comedy-drama film directed by Garry Marshall and written by Jack Amiel and Michael Begler. It stars Kate Hudson, John Corbett, Joan Cusack, Hayden Panettiere, siblings Spencer and Abigail Breslin, and Helen Mirren. It grossed $37,486,138 at the U.S. box office.


Helen Harris (Kate Hudson) and Lindsay (Felicity Huffman) were raised by their eldest sister, Jenny (Joan Cusack), after their mother died when Helen was seven. Now Helen is very successful in the fashion industry, working as the executive assistant to the CEO of one of Manhattan's most prestigious modeling agencies, and has a nice Manhattan lifestyle which keeps her extremely occupied and content. But Helen's world suddenly changes when Lindsay and brother-in-law Paul (Sean O'Bryan) die in a car accident, leaving behind three children, turning everyone's life upside down.

Helen and Jenny are in shock when they discover Lindsay and Paul left Helen in charge of their three kids: 15-year-old Audrey (Hayden Panettiere), 10-year-old Henry (Spencer Breslin), and five-year-old Sarah (Abigail Breslin). Nobody expected Helen to be named guardian of the children, especially since Jenny was already a super mom with two children and a third on the way. But a letter left to Helen by Lindsay convinces her that she can take care of the children. And Helen decides to do it on her own terms, which means raising the children and maintaining her already fast-paced schedule. But as work and children begin to interfere, Helen quickly finds herself burnt out and disheartened by her responsibilities and Jenny's lack of faith in her parenting.

Despite her already hectic schedule, Helen finds the time to develop a genuine affection for her new dependents, as well as an equally genuine attraction to Dan Parker (John Corbett), the kids' school principal and local Lutheran pastor. Busy trying to appease the children and adjust to suddenly being a mom, Helen's concentration on her job begins to slip and she is fired from Dominique (Helen Mirren). Stuck between a rock and a hard place, she is forced to become a receptionist at a car dealership. Things begin to look better for her as she bonds with the children and their sexy principal, and finally begins to get the hang of being a mom. But Audrey, struggling to come to terms with her parents' death, begins to fall in with the wrong crowd and date the wrong kind of guy. When she disappears from the school prom with her new boyfriend BZ to go find a motel, Helen is forced to call in Jenny as back-up to search all over New York to find Audrey. Unable to confront Audrey and risk the girl's hatred, once they track her down, Helen turns the parenting reins over to Jenny. This makes Helen realize that she isn't cut out to be a parent and so she turns the children over into Jenny's custody.

Helen returns to her wild lifestyle full of partying and booze, yet feels much less fulfilled than she had been before she became responsible for the children. She begins to find herself dissatisfied and depressed and so returns to Jenny's house to beg her to let her take the children back home. She eventually convinces Jenny that she's finally ready to be a parent when she puts her foot down and shows Audrey who's boss. Jenny, who was listening to Helen talking to the children, still refuses to give the kids back to her. Helen leaves, and sits alone on a bench near a swing set. There, she is visited once again by Jenny, who gives her the letter that Lindsay had written for Jenny. Helen reads the letter, which explains that Lindsay decided to choose Helen because it's about choosing someone who is more like herself, someone who can really give the children the mother they really want. While watching out her window, Helen turns around with joy when the kids arrive, now hers.

The film ends with Helen, Dan and the kids walking along a pier, and Sarah sits on a bench and ties her shoes all by herself.



The featured song Whip It by Devo was used in the movie. The song was used in its original meaning of solving problems after single Helen, becomes the guardian for three of her late sister's children.


The film was shown at the 2004 Tribeca Film Festival. It was theatrically released on May 28, 2004. Before the film started, there was an animated short from Walt Disney Feature Animation titled Lorenzo, about a cat who gets his tail jinxed and comes to life. The film left theaters on September 9, 2004.

Box office[edit]

The film opened at number 4 on opening weekend, making $10.9 million. In North America, the film made $37,486,512 overall. In foreign countries, it made $12,232,099. The film made $49,718,611 in its entire run, on a $50 million budget, making the film a box office flop.


Raising Helen received mostly negative reviews from critics, as it holds a 25% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 132 reviews, with the site's consensus of the film: "As shallow and formulaic as a sitcom."

Home media[edit]

The film was released on DVD and VHS on October 12, 2004. There has yet to be a Blu-ray release.


  1. ^ "Raising Helen (2004) - Financial Information". Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  2. ^ "Raising Helen (2004) - Box Office Mojo".

External links[edit]