Raising Helen (2004)

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Released 9-Nov-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Director And Writers
Deleted Scenes
Music Video-'Extraordinary' By Liz Phair
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 114:15
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (75:36) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Garry Marshall

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Kate Hudson
John Corbett
Joan Cusack
Hayden Panettiere
Spencer Breslin
Abigail Breslin
Helen Mirren
Sakina Jaffrey
Kevin Kilner
Felicity Huffman
Sean O'Bryan
Amber Valletta
Ethan Browne
Case ?
RPI $36.95 Music John Debney

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Spanish Audio Commentary
Portuguese Audio Commentary
Swedish Audio Commentary
Norwegian Audio Commentary
Danish Audio Commentary
Finnish Audio Commentary
Icelandic Audio Commentary
Spanish Titling
Portuguese Titling
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Garry Marshall is very good at making fluffy little comic confections and Raising Helen is no exception to his ability. Featuring the glorious Kate Hudson in the title role of Helen, it's a gentle ode to love, family and New York. Helen has it all. She's a bright, bubbly resourceful creature who's making a name for herself in the fashion world, solving problems seamlessly for her stone-chiselled boss Dominique (Helen Mirren). She is adored by her nieces and nephews, the children of her two sisters, Lindsay (Felicity Huffman) and Jenny (Joan Cusack), creating little indulgences for them, and being privy to all their secret kids' business. But tragedy strikes swiftly, killing Lindsay and her husband in an accident, and, in a surprise move, Lindsay eschews the obvious choice of Jenny for guardianship of her children, instead charging Helen with the responsibility of caring for teenaged Audrey (Hayden Panettiere), sporty Henry (Spencer Breslin) and teeny tiny Sarah (Abigail Breslin). In their pain and grief, the children are in no shape to deal with the monumental changes going on, and Helen is hardly any better able to cope than they are.

     Concerned about Audrey's obsession with boys, she attempts to find a decent school which can accommodate all three of the siblings - one preferably that doesn't require security guards at the door. Her prayers are answered, literally, with the discovery of St Barbara's Lutheran School. Not only is it a great school, the principal is the rather dishy Pastor Dan (John Corbett). In chaotic fashion, Helen and the kids learn to adjust to each other, though nothing is particularly smooth. Helen hates to be disliked so fails miserably at discipline, in spite of the fact that the children are clearly searching for their boundaries. None of this escapes the disapproving gaze of sister Jenny, who Cusack plays with remarkable sensitivity. Although she is a master at the unhinged, deranged and disappointed character roles, her Jenny has plenty of vulnerability under her authoritative crust. Helen's life is further complicated by the ardour of Pastor Dan.

     Essentially this is a coming-of-age film, with Helen having to learn to make major adjustments in order to adapt to her new life. There are scenes which appear a little redundant and there's a hefty layer of sugar coating over its surface, but the film is an agreeable diversion played with a mostly light touch by Hudson et al. Corbett never quite seems to fit his role somehow, but the plot drives inexorably to formulaic close, so everyone's let off the hook relatively quickly and cleanly.

      A bit of good natured fun.

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Transfer Quality


     This disc is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 16x9 enhanced.

     The presentation is crisp, sharp and bright, like its subject matter. There are no compression problems, only the mildest of low level noise and very little aliasing.

     The colour range is beautiful and warm with great detail in blacks and sharp bright whites. Skin tones are excellent throughout.

     There are no significant artefacts or transfer sins to report.

     This is an RSDL disc, but the layer change at 75:36 is virtually seamless.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     The soundtrack is delivered in English Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 and with an English Audio Commentary in Dolby Digital 2.0.

     The dialogue is crisp, clean and easily audible, with no sync problems evident. The subtitles were clean, clear and accurate.

     The original music is okay but not particularly outstanding.

     The surround speakers provide some sense of soundscape, although the subwoofer was basically out of the equation.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



     The menu is animated with theme music from the film.

Blooper Reel - 4:44

     Not particularly illuminating, but these kind of extras seem to be a real favourite of Marshall's.

Deleted Scenes

      Marshall seems to insist on introducing each and every scene with his little commentary. Without the option of being able to view or not view these intros, I found this quite annoying.

Audio Commentary - Garry Marshall (Dir), and Writers

      It's all very chummy and chatty I suppose, but Marshall has a voice that could rasp iron and it gets a bit enervating after a while.

Music Video - Liz Phair - Extraordinary (3:40)

      Catchy little tune I suppose, but really, once is enough.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

       Both versions appear to offer identical extras so the PAL R4 version wins.


     It's lighter than candy floss and twice as sweet, but it's reasonably cheery and warm. A bit of fun.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Mirella Roche-Parker (read my bio)
Thursday, November 18, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDSinger SGD-001, using S-Video output
DisplayTeac 76cm Widescreen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationTeac 5.1 integrated system
Speakers fronts-paradigm titans, centre &rear Sony - radio parts subbie

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