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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Rearing Lutherans

Raising Helen (2004) on IMDb

Plot Overview

water coolerDominique Courier (Dame Helen Mirren) of the Dominique Modeling Agency is finding it difficult to get the right male model to represent “every man” in the Lola ad. She passes on a passel of glossies: “No, he looks like a model,” she says. “No, he's just too beautiful.” She specifies what she's looking for is an every­man, “a bloke.” Her executive assistant Helen Harris (Kate Hudson) points to the work­man recharging the office water cooler, and Gary Hagel­nick is in.

Into Helen's busy life comes a phone call nobody ever wants to receive. Her sister Lindsay Davis (Felicity Huffman) and husband Paul were tragically killed in an auto accident in Atlantic City. At the reading of the will, it is expected that Helen's older sister Jenny Portman (Joan Cusack), a model mother (“She's super­mom”) will be assigned custody of the orphans: fifteen-year-old Audrey (Hayden Panettiere), ten-year-old Henry (Spencer Breslin), and five-year-old Sarah (Abigail Breslin, Spencer's real sister.) To every­one's surprise, and for reasons of her own included in private letters, Lindsay assigns custody to her “dance-club tramp” of a sister Helen.

On the encouraging side, the Lola ad with the bloke in it turned out halfway decent, we'll just have to hope for the best with the brood and the broad.


gatheringIn an early establishing shot, the three close sisters talk about Jenny's “catalogue” approach to life: “You meet the nice guy; you get married; and you get to experience … the miracle of life.” Helen is starting now a little ahead of the game with three ready-made miracles. Soon after moving to more accom­mo­dating digs (i.e. a “phat crib”) in Queens, she sets about to enroll the two school-aged munch­kins in a nearby parochial school. There she encounters a “sexy man of God” in Lutheran Pastor Dan Parker (John Corbett.) While he's undoubtedly “the nice guy” in the catalogue, the new arrivals are for their part phony Lutherans, so will this ever work? Can a Lutheran pastor even date and marry, and then can he do so with a woman not of his faith?

With the King James Version (KJV) Bible saying, (Heb. 13:4) “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whore­mongers and adulterers God will judge.” we can argue that marriage and dating is acceptable for a “sexy” pastor, and so the Lutherans allow that, just not non-marital shen­ani­gans. As noted by pastor Criswell in his study Bible:

13:4  The first clause has no verb in Greek. If “marriage is honorable in all” is read, the state­ment becomes a refutation of asceticism, which down­graded marriage. If the imperative is implied, “let marriage be,” the state­ment becomes a call to purity within marriage.
The Lutherans, in “Raising Helen” at least, follow the former à la KJV here allowing Pastor Dan to date and/or marry.

Paul's direct saying about a mixed marriage (Christian with nonchristian) is, (1Cor. 7:12-14) “If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. … For the unbelieving … wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.” We see that God can engineer mixed marriages as well as those between two Christians.

When Paul enjoins the widow to remarry “only in the Lord” (1Cor. 7:39) if at all, he is using the phrase adverbi­ally telling her not to proceed “wantonly against Christ” (1Tim. 5:11-12). He's not curtailing her liberty by insisting she wed only a Christian husband, as would be the case if the phrase were applied adjectiv­ally. This movie would follow scripture correctly allowing Pastor Dan to select dates and/or a mate of those out­side his faith if he wants. Fact is Pastor Dan seems to be following the Lord's example (Luke 15:4-7) where a good shepherd leaves ninety-nine sheep in the fold and goes out to rescue a single stray. There are many fine Lutheran women in his congregation who would love to marry him, but he ignores them and takes after the lost one.

In 2nd Corinthians Paul does ask the Corinthians the rhetorical question, (2Cor. 6:15) “what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?” Webster defines, “infidel: one who is not a Christian or who opposes Christianity.” The Corinthians have ready examples at hand due to their allowed associations with the locals. It's these mismatches that impress on their minds the incom­pati­bility of mixed composition in worship practices, so that, say, we should not establish some ‘Voodoo Church of Christ’. The two are not going to mix well. So Paul concludes, telling Christians: (2Cor. 6:14) “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: ...” Note the plural pronoun ye. Webster defines, “ye pron you 1 — used orig. only as a plural pronoun of the second person in the subjective case and now used esp. in ecclesiastical or literary language and in various English dialects.” We are for­bid­den to integrate heathen practices into our church services in the aggregate, though as individual believers we are allowed to rub shoulders with unbelievers in various places so long as we remain aloof from their idolatry or what­ever. Pastor Parker is allowed to date Helen, but she's clueless about the church, so she can't be tapped to participate in its ministry unless or until she converts. No problem, there are plenty of congregants chipping in.

The next “catalogue” step for Helen would be a variation of, (1Tim. 5:14) “I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully. For some are already turned aside after Satan.” She must leave her party girl ways behind.

She'll need some help doing this. (Titus 2:3-5) “That the aged ... women ... may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” Her neighbor Nilma Prasad (Sakina Jaffrey) gives her all kinds of good advice and help in her new situation, and she still has Jenny to help with big problems, but Pastor Dan's advice is unwelcome.

Women are also to express their holiness in the physical sphere: (1Tim. 2:9-10) “that women adorn them­selves in modest apparel, with shame­faced­ness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women pro­fes­sing godli­ness) with good works.”  NOTE: The 1611 King James trans­lators used the word shame­fast­ness, but printers later sub­sti­tuted the alter­nate shame­faced­ness of similar meaning, which latter has now passed into our main English vocabulary. The original was reinstated in the 1873 Cambridge Para­graph Bible, and more recently in the 2005, 2011 New Cambridge Para­graph Bible. In our movie a male model taking a prat­fall off the run­way was under­stand­ably shame­faced, while the new model Hagel­nick stood shame­fastly refusing to pose naked. The girl­friend in the used car lot was dressed immodestly enough to complain about the man on stilts looking down her shirt. The two nuns walking by in their habits had no such problems with immodest dress.

Production Values

” (2004) was directed by Garry Marshall. The story was written by Patrick J. Clifton and Beth Rigazio. It stars Kate Hudson, Joan Cusack, John Corbett, Helen Mirren, and Felicity Huffman. The three sisters were played by two genuine actresses and one Hollywood daughter. Kate Hudson an angelic beauty played the lead who would do her mother Goldie Hawn proud with her worthy performance. Prime acting was done by Joan Cusak, as Helen's oldest sister, and child actor Abigail Breslin, as the youngest of the orphans.

MPAA rated it PG–13 for thematic issues involving teens. The cast of this movie fits the plot well. “Raising Helen” was predictable but not objectionable.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

While this is a chick flick par excellence, I a guy found it both funny and touching. Attending a Lutheran church that once had its own school didn't hurt none, either. This one should be easy to decide on.

Movie Ratings

Action Factor: Weak action scenes. Suitability for Children: Suitable for children 13+ years with guidance. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: Good for Family Groups. Suspense: A few suspenseful moments. Overall movie rating: Five stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture is taken from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software, Print.

The Criswell Study Bible. Authorized King James Version. Nashville | Camden: Thomas Nelson Pub., 1979. Print.

Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary. Springfield, Mass.: MERRIAM-WEBSTER. 1984. Print.