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The Help

A movie directed by Tate Taylor

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The Help

  • Aug 11, 2011
Based in the racially charged Deep South during the sixties The Help takes a look at the perspective of the hired help and what they were forced to grin and take during Jim Crow. The heart of the story is in the right place. Everything else seems to be scattered from the emotion to the narrator. This fluctuation may work for a book but in the movie the story seems to be all over the place.

The story itself is very convincing and connects itself to the audience. There didn't seem to be any over dramatization for the sake of getting a reaction. Although it seemed there was plenty of room for just such an action as one can't help but feel nervous for the main characters as they attempt to do what they feel to be the right thing. Instead the story is told true to what life could have been during this tumultuous time. The story seemed so natural that I believed it to be a true story.

The Help follows the action of two women attempting to share the story of their town with the rest of the country. Emma Stone plays Skeeter a fledgling writer living in a well to do Mississippi town. She is looking to make the move from small town journalist to novelist and to do that she needs to find a subject to speak to that people around her seem to be missing out on. After noticing the way her friends and family treat the hired help, she believes she has found her subject. No one is willing to talk to Skeeter about what really goes on in these white homes fearing the repercussions until she finally convinces Ailbileen Clark played by Viola Davis to speak about her life. While the story is about the black workers and the voiceovers are done by Viola Davis, Emma Stone’s character seems to be the one pushing the plot along. Only Hollywood could take a movie about the plight of Black workers in Jackson, Mississippi during the sixties and have it star a white woman.

The book features three different perspectives both the point of view of Skeeter and Ailbileen along with Ailbileen's friend Minny. In the movie Minny, played by Octavia Spencer takes a back seat and provides more comic relief than perspective. The movie is at its best when the focus of the movie turns to Davis and Spencer. As you can expect Davis, a Tony and Oscar nominated actress, brings in a powerful performance. All her emotions dazzle through the eyes of this performer and it is her character that can raise you up or bring you down. Spencer does not convey her fears as well as Davis, and while she obviously fears for her livelihood at time she does much better with sass.

Their white counterparts do a fine job. It is easy to see why Emma Stone is in so many movies, she is charismatic, talented, and cute. She does a great job in the movie but is probably given too much to do, including a romance that has no bearing on the story, and in fact takes away from the idea that this movie is about strong independent women. Her romance is the only male prominently featured in the movie; all others are pushed out of the scene or are only there at the whims of their wives to showcase the women of the time.  No better example than queen bee and president of the Junior League Hilly Holbrook, played by Opie's daughter Bryce Dallas Howard. Hilly holds the most power in her group of women and has ostracized those who would get in her way. Howard really gets herself into the character, pushing those around her to maintain the status quo of the town all while wearing a perfect smile. Howard does a great job bringing to life a deplorable character.

With such strong talent in front of the camera most of its waywardness can be attributed to the relatively new director Tate Taylor. Taylor is a close friend of the novel's author Kathryn Stockett and may have been convinced to keep too much of the story. While not necessarily a bad thing to stay so true to a beloved book, there is no need to keep everything, and someone with such little experience or sway may not know how to correctly pace a movie.

The movie itself though is fine, it doesn't get bogged down or overzealous, though it is often fairly overt on what the characters are thinking and how you should feel. The movie concerns itself with making sure fans of the book can cherish the story and share it with those who have yet to read it, and in that respect the movie accomplishes its goals. If you allow yourself to be taken into their world you will surely feel better for it. C

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February 22, 2012
Progress has been made mainly through more available public and private education as well as, more community outreach. Technology should be able to help us in this area.
August 20, 2011
Although I think that a score of 2 is a bit harsh, I understand what you are saying about the number of storylines that are in the movie. Your example of Skeeter's boyfriend, and the story about one of the maids who has an abusive husband are not at all fleshed out and seem gratuitous. The movie was a good one, though, in a year when I wasn't inclined to see many. I read the book but, actually, I liked the movie more! As my movie companion said, "I don't remember the book being so emotional and having such an impact." I agree.
More The Help reviews
review by . February 13, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
**1/2 out of ****    During the early 1960's - at the time of the Civil Rights era - there were the upper class men and women, and then there were the Help. Who, and what, was "the help", exactly? Why, they were the household labor force, consisting entirely of blacks. Most of them were women. They acted as maids, servants, and perhaps even slaves to their superiors/employers; obeying every last order in fear of being disciplined if they failed to adhere. They lived dangerous …
review by . November 21, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
   Starting with a sensational cast and a talented director, The Help unveils the most usual and common racial theme in a customized manor. It transcends from being dramatic, powerful and heartbreaking to being funny, excentric and flamboyant in an unique and hilarious way. While it depicts a warm and thoughtful story about the 1960s racial era in Mississippi in which strong black women were treated so harsh by their "employers", The Help succeeds in being mature in a childish …
review by . June 02, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Entertaining and thought-provoking
The year is 1963, and Skeeter returns from college to find life as usual among her privileged set. She’s the only one in the Junior League who notices that the black servants must silently endure insults and degradation at the hands of their oblivious employers. She decides to write a book about how the help really feel about their jobs and asks to interview several maids. This is socially risky for Skeeter and seriously dangerous for the maids.   I loved the book and was glad that …
review by . August 10, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         The Help is extraordinary in the way it evokes an era and explores an unspoken but well-understood social order, specifically in regards to race relations. It takes place in Jackson, Mississippi in the early 1960s, at which point the Jim Crow laws were still in effect – the segregation of public schools, public transportation, restrooms, restaurants, drinking fountains, movie theater entrances, and even the U.S. military. During this time, …
review by . August 10, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
We could all use a little help
THE HELP   Written and Directed by Tate Taylor   Starring Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Bryce Dallas Howard and Octavia Spencer      Aibileen: What if you don't like what I got to say 'bout white people?      Jackson, Mississippi has a rich history but it certainly also has its fair share of shame. Great turmoil does however make for great drama in novice filmmaker, Tate Taylor’s THE HELP, based on the wildly popular novel of the …
Quick Tip by . December 29, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
I never ever watch these type of movies, but last weekend my surplus of redbox rental codes and lack of movie selection lead me to rent The Help. I'd heard all the good things about it while it was in theaters and still put it on the back burner. I'm glad i did finally give it a chance though, because it was an amazing movie! Its been a while since i watched a movie that held my full attention for the entire runtime. Needless to say i will be adding this to my movie collection this weekend.
review by . August 19, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
   Every once in a while a movie comes along that completely transcends entertainment. Based on a novel I've not read, The Help adds one more layer to the Civil Rights movement. The hardworking layer of the African American maids who lovingly raised the children of their employers and then suffered many of those same children growing into bigoted adults. Stories are shared, lives explored, attitudes revealed and the fictional account is likely just a tiny shadow of reality.   …
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There are male viewers who will enjoyThe Help, but Mississippi native Tate Taylor aims his adaptation squarely at the female readers who made Kathryn Stockett's novel a bestseller. If the multi-character narrative revolves around race relations in the Kennedy-era South, the perspective belongs to the women. Veteran maid Aibileen (Doubt's Viola Davis in an Oscar-worthy performance) provides the heartfelt narration that brackets the story. A widow devastated by the death of her son, she takes pride in the 17 children she has helped to raise, but she's hardly fulfilled. That changes when Skeeter (Easy A's Emma Stone) returns home after college. Unlike her peers, Skeeter wants to work, so she gets a job as a newspaper columnist. But she really longs to write about Jackson's domestics, so she meets with Aibileen in secret--after much cajoling and the promise of anonymity. When Aibileen's smart-mouthed friend Minny (breakout star Octavia Spencer) breaches her uptight employer's protocol, Hilly (Bryce Dallas Howard) gives her the boot, and she ends up in the employ of local outcast Celia (Jessica Chastain, hilarious and heartbreaking), who can't catch a break due to her dirt-poor origins. After the murder of Medgar Evers, even more maids, Minny among them, bring their stories to Skeeter, leading to a book that scandalizes the town--in a good way. Not sinceSteel Magnoliashas Hollywood produced a Southern woman's picture more likely to produce ...
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Director: Tate Taylor
Genre: Drama
Release Date: 12 August 2011 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Screen Writer: Tate Taylor, Kathryn Stockett
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