Beautiful, successful and happily single, Helen (Kate Hudson) is an executive assistant at a modeling agency in Manhattan in this romantic comedy. But when her sister and brother-in-law (Felicity Huffman and Sean O’Bryan) are killed in a car accident, she becomes the legal guardian of their three children: teenager Audrey (Hayden Panettiere), 10-year-old Henry (Spencer Breslin) and kindergartner Sarah (Abigail Breslin). Helen finds herself trying to find a suitable school for the children while meeting the demands of her job. When she stumbles upon a Lutheran school in Queens, the headmaster and pastor (John Corbett) convinces her to enroll them. He is amused by Helen’s attempts to hide her ignorance of religion, and a strong friendship develops into romance. Helen’s other sister (Joan Cusack) meanwhile feels that she should be the guardian, and the two bicker over how to deal with the orphaned children.
“Raising Helen” will appeal more to women because of its gentle humor and wholesome romance. Helen makes personal sacrifices to keep the children: a rebellious teenager, a grieving boy who withdraws and a little girl who feels inadequate. When she and Dan fall in love, there is no hint of a sexual relationship. Audrey’s rebellion manifests itself in lying about her prom date and sneaking off with a more worldly boy to a motel. Clearly sex was on their agenda, but Helen and her sister interfere just in time. She also invites some unsavory teens to a party in the apartment, with drinking, loud music and smoking. There is no violence except for some pushing and shoving. Dove cautions parents about “Raising Helen” for these issues, as well as one instance of the s-word, uttered by 10-year-old Henry. That is why we recommend a 12+ age group for this film.