Raja Gosnell started his film career as an assistant editor in the late 1970s. His first credit as a film's main editor was the romantic comedy "The Lonely Guy" (1984), for director Arthur Hiller. During the 1980s, Gosnell served as editor in films directed by Tom Laughlin, David Worth, Bob Dahlin, Bert Convy, Christopher Leitch, Annabel Jankel, Rocky Morton, Phillip Schuman, and Chris Columbus.
For Columbus he edited the comedy film "Heartbreak Hotel" (1988), which features a 1970s teenager kidnapping singer Elvis Presley, to bring home as a gift for his mother. During the 1990s, Gosnell would serve as editor in several more film by Columbus.
The 1990s started with Gosnell working as editor in two high-profile projects: "Pretty Woman" (1990) by Garry Marshall, and "Home Alone" (1990) by Chris Columbus. Both turned out to be among the major hits of the year 1990. He then worked in the Columbus' films "Only the Lonely" (1991), "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York" (1992), "Mrs. Doubtfire" (1993), and "Nine Months" (1995). Gosnell had few other editing credits during the 1990s and retired as an editor in 1995.
Gosnell resurfaced as a film director in his own right, hired to direct "Home Alone 3" (1997). The film was intended to continue the "Home Alone" franchise with a new set of characters and no connection to the events of the previous films. The film was a minor box office hit, and the series next continued with a television film. Gosnell was not asked to direct further "Home Alone" films.
His next directorial credit was the romantic comedy film "Never Been Kissed" (1999). The premise of the film is that a 25-year-old female newspaper editor poses as high school student to get a story. She ends up revisiting traumas from her teenage years and finding new love interests. The film was another minor box office hit.
Gosnell's next film was the action comedy "Big Momma's House" (2000). The premise is that a young, male FBI agent impersonates the elderly grandmother of a suspect, in order to investigate a case. The film was an unexpected box office hit (earning about 174 million at the worldwide box office), and received two sequels of its own. Gosnell had nothing to do with the sequels, but the film cemented his reputation as a commercially successful director.
Gosnell was next hired to direct "Scooby-Doo" (2002), an adventure comedy-film, combining live action with computer animation. The film earned about 275 million at the worldwide box office, and became one of the most commercially successful films released in 2002. It was the biggest hit yet in Gosnell's career.
Gosnell was next assigned to direct the sequel film "Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed" (2004), which also combined live action with computer animation. The film performed decently at the box office, but failed to match the commercial success of the original. Gosnell was not asked to direct further "Scooby-Doo films", and no further live-action "Scooby-Doo" productions were released for several years.
Gosnell's next film was the family comedy "Yours, Mine & Ours" (2005). The premise was the difficulties faced by a newlywed couple, whose children from previous relationships stand opposed to their marriage. The film stood out for an unusually large cast of child actors, as the premise was that the couple has 18 kids from previous relationships. Its box office performance was unremarkable.
Gosnell returned with a relatively low-budget film. the comedy "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" (2008). The premise of the film is that the pet dog of a wealthy American heiress is dog-napped and ends up wandering in Mexico. The film features live-action dogs with voice actors providing their dialogue. The film was an unexpected box office hit, and received two sequels. Gosnell was not involved with the sequels.
Gosnell's next film was more high-profile: the comic book adaptation "The Smurfs" (2011), combining live-action with animation. The premise was that a small group of Smurfs and their opponents were accidentally transported to modern day New York City, resulting in a culture clash. The film earned about 564 million dollars at the worldwide box office, the greatest hit yet in Gosnell's career.
Gosnell was next assigned to direct the sequel "The Smurfs 2" (2013). which has the Smurfs be confronted by the Naughties, evil counterparts of them created by magic. While the film earned about 347 million dollars at the worldwide box office, it failed to match the success of the original and performed bellow expectations at most markets. The live-action Smurf films were discontinued and Gosnell was left with no ongoing projects for a while.
Gosnell is supposed to make a comeback in 2018 with new comedy films. Most of his films as a director have been comedy films and he is strongly associated with the genre.