August 9, 2011

Review: The Help Movie


all images courtesy of Disney/Dreamworks

This past weekend while in San Diego, Disney and Dreamworks Pictures offered me the opportunity to see a screening of The Help movie. I’d heard the movie was terrific. I wanted to take my mother-in-law to see it when it opened so taking in the screening would help me to convince her, if need be.

Let me begin by saying the only thing that could have made this experience better would have been a giant box of tissues on my seat. If you haven’t read the book, you’ll definitely need a few extra tissues. If you’ve read the book, you already know.

If you recall a bit of your high school history, you’ll remember that black people living in the south in the 1960s were second class citizens. Life for blacks was very separate from that of whites. While not legally slavery, it may as well have been.

The Help movie is based on the best selling book by Kathryn Stockett. And while the movie deviates some from the book, the general feel is not lost. The movie features a star-studded cast that meshes well and portrays their characters flawlessly with a true sense of believability. To see Cicely Tyson walk in, you know you’re seeing her best. Sissy Spacek is a scene stealer portraying Missus Walters. She has terrific lines, lovely period costumes and a time-honored cigarette dangling from her fingers.

There are several pivotal characters, some of which make you want to hug them because you just adore them and others you want to narrow your eyes and say ‘you should know better’. Emma Stone is very believable as Skeeter Phelan, a young woman fresh out of college who see that black women have a compelling story and wants to capture it. Viola Davis connects you deeply with Aibelline Clark, a black maid who has raised many white children and struggles emotionally with the killing of her own son. Her best friend, Minny, played by Octavia Spencer, is both funny and cautious.

I’m a child of the 1970s, and while the Civil Rights movement had made great strides since the 1960s, I still saw this concept of separate but equal. There were no separate bathrooms or entrances, but the tension when black people were around was often too much. I grew up around black people and heard many first hand accounts of what life was like in the south during the mid-1900s.

This movie made me recall the stories from my mother’s best friend, Julia, who grew up during this time period. It made me think of my grandparent’s neighbor, whom my grandmother referred to as her sister and brother, who were born in the 1920s and both marched on Washington. I saw my mother-in-law who was a young girl during this time period and lived in the south.

It’s a beautiful movie that is funny, heartwarming, and heart wrenching at the same time. It’s a glimpse into a world that often gets sanitized because it’s not easy to watch. But the movie stays true to the period, even though it is very uncomfortable at times. The movie is a reminder of both how far we’ve come since the 1960s and how much we still need to go.

I can see this movie cleaning up at the awards ceremonies. It’s just that good. The attention to details really pays off as you are transported back to a time when black people were treated as less than. This is a must see film that both men and women will appreciate. It is filled with emotions (hence the need for plenty of tissues) and there are clear protagonists to root for as well as antagonists that make you so angry but you sympathize for them and their small minds

Go see the movie! Take plenty of tissues with you, too. This movie can easily be included with Roots and The Color Purple in its far-reaching impact on our culture.

The Help movie will be in theaters beginning Wednesday, August 10, 2011. Don’t pass up the opportunity to see it. The big screen really helps to showcase the larger than life characters that you will both love and hate.

Change begins with a whisper. So true!

Are you eager to see the movie? Did you read the book? When you see it, I’d love to know your thoughts.

Disclosure: I was provided a complementary screening as well as a goody bag with a paper fan, a book mark and a canister of ‘The Help’ branded tea bags. I was not required to write abou this movie, nor has this post been reviewed by a third party. These are my opinions and thoughts and I’m writing this because the story is just that terrific!



Krystel @MomVlogger August 9, 2011 at 7:11 am

Thanks for sharing this awesome review. I had started reading the book but havent got completely through it yet, but I am itching so bad to see the movie. I think me and my mom will go see together. Really looking forward to it after reading this!

Sara August 9, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Krystel, they did a terrific job making the movie. It really did remind me a lot of The Color Purple in how well it was done and that it focused on the people not the politics. Please tell me what you think of it.

V Demetros August 9, 2011 at 11:18 am

I read the book and had a wonderful bookclub discussion about it. I was worried about bringing this story to the big screen and I’m happy to hear they did it well. My grandmother had a maid, in uniform, while I was growing up. The book brought so much back as I remembered those years. I was quite young in the ’60s and oblivious to most of what was going on, but I do wish I knew more. Now, I find it fascinating to relive. Thanks for the review.

Sara August 9, 2011 at 12:26 pm

V, having read and discussed the book you’ll find the movie that much more fascinating as they bring to life these characters. While the politics/culture set the tone, the fact that it’s so focused on the people really allows you to understand them better. The authenticity of the wardrobe, food, setting really transport you there. Can’t wait to hear your thoughts.


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