Picks and Pans Review: Raising Helen

updated 06/07/2004 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/07/2004 01:00AM

Kate Hudson, John Corbett

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This movie is like the rubber hot water bottles mothers used to apply for children's tummy aches: It's warm and a little clammy, and one keeps thinking there has to be a better way.

Raising Helen is about a glamorous single Manhattan woman (Hudson, see page 90) who slowly grows up after becoming guardian to two young nieces and a nephew after their parents are killed in a car accident. Our heroine faces many obstacles—the kids misbehave, she loses her job—but all are easily conquerable. And there's always that cute Lutheran pastor (Corbett) lurking in the background wearing a goofy, lovesick smile.

Assertively heartwarming, this gooey sugar bun from director Garry Marshall (Runaway Bride) relies heavily on the presumed adorability of its leading lady. While Hudson is indeed likable, that trait alone isn't enough to carry either her character or the movie. To be fair, she gets little help from a mediocre script that lurches from scene to scene, making the same obvious points repeatedly. In supporting roles, Corbett is blandly affable as her would-be suitor, while the usually reliable Joan Cusack, playing a bossy older sister, pushes too hard. (PG-13)

COMEDY

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