The film’s portrayal of a Protestant pastor also stumbles. “So what’s the Lutheran take on the afterlife?” Henry asks Pastor Dan. “Heaven, Hell, Purgatory?” Dan answers, “That’s pretty much it.” Wrong, Dan. Do not pass Go. Return immediately to Sunday School. Lutherans do not believe in Purgatory.

On the surface, the message of “Raising Helen” is that mothering is more important than anything else we could pursue in life, including career. Dig a little deeper, however, and a second message about motherhood emerges – one that contradicts the first. At the end of the day, it is Helen, a working mother – not Jenny, the stay-at-home, big-house-in-the-‘burbs mom – who is shown to be the best mother for the kids. So ultimately, according to the film, the best mom is the one who can somehow manage career and home. This message is mitigated by scenes that show how hard it is to do both, but the film clearly implies that single mothers are far better than couples (even happily married, loving, experienced parents). Despite Cusack’s eccentricity, I had a hard time buying this.

Overall, this film was a huge disappointment. Wait for the video, if you must. Better still, rent Diane Keaton’s 1987 classic, “Baby Boom.” Same plot, but with a great script and great acting. And no fake pastors.

"Raising Helen"

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