(out of 5)
Surprisingly likeable comedy-drama stars Kate Hudson as Helen, a go-getting glamorous employee of a fashion model agency, whose life is turned right around by the death of her sister and brother-in-law. The deceased leave behind three young children who need a parent, and in their will leave Helen in charge instead of their more motherly sister Jenny (Joan Cusack). The decision ends up costing Helen her job, social life and apartment in Manhattan, but what she gains is a new appreciation for her own life as well as a sense of grown-up responsibility that is completely new to her. She even drops her supermodel boyfriends for romance with a kindly Lutheran pastor (John Corbett, everybody’s favourite movie boyfriend). There’s nothing here you haven’t seen before, but Hudson gives a grounded performance that never allows director Garry Marshall’s more emotionally manipulative storytelling to take over, leaving you with a pleasant experience that features some very touching moments. The kids do a good job despite the fact that they’re so obviously movie kids, and there’s even a supporting performance by the ever-fascinating Helen Mirren as Hudson’s boss. Also look out for a cameo by cameo queen Paris Hilton, that period’s healthiest reminder that being rich and popular doesn’t necessarily equal being interesting.
Directed by Garry Marshall
Cinematography by Charles Minsky
Production Design by Steven J. Jordan
Costume Design by Gary Jones