Jack Goes Confidential: ‘THE HELP’ is This Summer’s Knockout Oscar Contender!

When you see as many marginal movies like critics have to, it’s easy to become a bit jaded.

So when something very special comes along we tend to go overboard and want to tell everyone about it. And that’s the case with THE HELP, the superb screen adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s # 1 best selling novel.

Set in 1960’s Jackson, Mississippi during the height of the civil rights movement, THE HELP tells of southern society girl Skeeter (played by Emma Stone). She’s returning from Ole Miss, becoming a writer for the local newspaper, but begins to turn the town upside-down when she decides to interview many of the black women who’ve spent their lives as maids, taking care of prominent white southern families. Almost single handedly raising their own kids yet having to use separate bathrooms in their houses.

"They carry different diseases, you know."

Changes begin – with a whisper – to overcome the old stereotypes and misconceptions—ultimately turning the maid’s inner pain of racial injustice into a best selling book called THE HELP.

What makes this very moving, yet often funny and poignant motion picture work so well has to be credited to its director Tate Taylor. Taylor not only perfectly cast the movie but got the best out of every individual performance.

Three Oscar worthy performances in THE HELP include those of Viola Davis as the wise Aibileen. Also for consideration should be Octavia Spencer‘s sassy portrayal of Minnie. And the big surprise here has to be Stone who’s at the top of her game in the lead as Skeeter.

Other standouts include Bryce Dallas Howard as the bitchy Hilly Holbrook, Chris Lowell, Jessica Chastain, Sissy Spacek and Cicely Tyson.

"Why am I black? I drank too much coffee."

So how does the movie compare to the book? I can’t tell you since I haven’t read it. But following the loud and long applause after our recent screening, several people who had read the book told me it definitely compares favorably. Apparently only Skeeter’s romance doesn’t quite get the exposure on screen as it did in the book.

Some would suggest that THE HELP is strictly a chick flick. And its cast could give that impression.

Let me assure you, it’s much more than that.

You may recall BRIDESMAIDS early this summer and how men didn’t want anything to do with it—until they saw it and loved it. (It’s now the # 1 ‘sleeper hit’ of the entire summer and still playing on a handful of local screens.)

Such is the case with THE HELP, which will be appreciated by both sexes, all demographics and should play well past Labor Day. It’s one of the finest films you’ll see this year dealing with the inner pain felt while forging unlikely friendships as a new sisterhood emerges. And as unwittingly and unwillingly the participants get caught up in the changing times.

"Courage sometimes skips a generation. Thank you for bringing it back."

THE HELP, rated PG-13, is about as good as it gets. I’m raising 4-1/2 out of 5 Oscar-bound fingers.


JACK GOES TO THE MOVIES Friday’s on Radio: NewsRadio KMBZ AM & FM / 1160-Radio Bach / and the new 99.7-The Point.
Also anytime on Time Warner Cable’s K.C. ON DEMAND, Channel 411.

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18 Responses to Jack Goes Confidential: ‘THE HELP’ is This Summer’s Knockout Oscar Contender!

  1. jen says:

    finger missing?
    Gee Jack why stop at just 4.5 fingers?

  2. smartman says:

    The Help Riots on Plaza
    Perfect movie for a KILL WHITEY flash mob on The Plaza.

  3. jack p says:

    Leave it to smartman to come up with that,

  4. Tracy Thomas says:

    I saw it a month ago, and was bored
    I saw it at a preview–maybe they changed the ending?? I took a writer who is also in a book club and who had read it, and we were both underwhelmed. I had been loaned the book last fall, while I was recuperating, and the patois on the first 3 pages was just impossible to read.

    I really wanted this to be great–it’s beautifully filmed. But that doesn’t make for an Oscar, just ask James Cameron re Avatar.
    Also, the audio quality was not always good. There were key lines that I just could not make out. If I were the director, I’d have done a retake, or at least punched it up. The volume on some muttered lines was just too low to be discernable. And we all know, the things we mutter under our breath are usually the most important things we are thinking! It’s the reason people on KCC comment anonymously–they are thinking mean thoughts they would not dare utter out loud.

    This movie was not Roots. It’s a Civil Rights movie that is 30 years late. The idea of discrimination, as it is revealed, just seems dated. Yes there are some good moments. If you want a great civil rights film, watch The Color Purple again. Oprah got it right.

    I marched in ’68, I joined a black church in Des Moines, I served on the board of the Urban League. So–I expected this movie to move me–and oddly, it just did not! My Kleenex went home with me, untouched.

    And it really felt like a chick flick to me. As opposed to the guy movie I previewed this week, 30 Minutes or Less, which guys will love but women will not. So I am glad to learn that Jack is far more the Sensitive Guy.

  5. chuck says:

    Thank you Tracy.
    The sell by date on “White Guilt” movies is exactly what Tracy says it is and this one is, as she says, “30 years late.”

    Laughing up their sleeves all the way to the bank, the Hollywood machine, producers, directors, actors et al, no longer have their collective fingers on America’s pulse, they have their hands around America’s throats.

    There is no little irony, that so many Jewish folks in Hollywood pump out this propaganda and shit it into the proletarian abyss, for cunsumption by lemmings that have been programmed to drink the kool aid. Joseph Goebbels smiles.

    Considering the timing, and the content of the movie, juxtapositioned against the back drop of relentless, incessant, African American flash mobs, riots, mayhem and the usual breaking news horrors, perhaps the producers thought it might be a new millenium American Graffiti, a kind of halcyon “Good O’le Days” flick that would harken Americans back to a more civilized and far less dangerous era. Hell, its probably a pretty good 45 minute movie. D.O.L. productions. Defenstration Of Logic. There ya go, your all welcome to steal that, it fits nicely with the theft of our wallets, dignity and hope.

    Hollywood and the 4th estate struggles mightly to suppress, divert and diffuse the ever more alarming violence (My new favorite is the Phillidelphia Story, pun intended. The gangbangers who show up and shoot automatic weapons into a bus full of people because some one was “Dissrespected”. Now HERE is a great movie. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/08/06/earlyshow/saturday/main20089055.shtml).

    Maybe this will be a great movie in 100 years, Americans will look back on it, and then, having forgotton the blood, treasure, agony and lives lost to the Rapper/Hip/Hop/Holocaust of death, they will encapsulate it in time, unaware, or uncaring of the disaster that followed the era.

    Finally, my ancestors were Norwegian, 5 out of 6 brothers died in the fiords fishing for a living. The last one, the one that lived came to America, worked on a farm in Iowa and none of us EVER owned slaves. I for one am worn out with Hollywood’s efforts to assess guilt and opprobrium to me or any other person whom they deem culpable in their imaginary Star Walk Star Chamber.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I am a Viking of Viking blood. As I understand my family sacked and pillaged the Irish, English, French, Germans and a litany of poor o’le white folks whom I now feel resposible for reparations

    So, if any of you Europeans, English, Swiss, French, Irish, German etc want reparations, baby I got ’em for ya. They come in the form of good whiskey, bullets, guns, lawyers and what ever it takes to end the mindset of guilt and self destruction that movies like this promote.

  6. mark says:

    Chuck gets it
    Good review.

  7. smartman says:

    True dat Chuck and Jack
    Wildings in Philly, but never anywhere near Pat’s and Geno’s for fear of equal justice. Whitey gettin’ pick and pulled at the Wisconsin State Fair. What’s CNN give us? ONE black man in Jackson, Mississippi who gets shit-stomped and run over by some wanna be KKK’er. No fair. No balanced. Just more white guilt from Uncle Ted’s Cabin. Anderson Cooper returns to the scene of the crime almost twenty years hence in Africa to cover another famine that has more to do with Ida Amin thuggery and a genetic disposition for not being the Von Trapp family than anything played on the jukebox in Peoria.

    Movies about black debaters and swimmers don’t feed the beast. America needs you Harry Truman and Jesse Owens too.

    The HELP raised a generation of white kids and all we have to show for it is Eminem, Justin Timberlake and Nick Wright.

    The UK has 16K coppers on the street and still chaos rules the day. Gotta be sensitive. Wouldn’t wanna kick in any teeth God forbid they get straightened and splice the orthodontic gene pool by a couple of degrees of latitude.

    These are not the times that try mens souls. These are the times that try mens patience. Our moral authority has been replaced by amoral ambiguity.

    The primates are running the asylum and we call it progress.

  8. Tracy says:

    Uffda, don’t mess wid Chuck! Or Smartman…

  9. chuck says:

    50 Bucks says they make a movie
    about the London Riots and it will be ‘Whitey’s” fault.

    Hey, here is a good idea Hearne, have Steve Penn dredge up still ANOTHER column or two about Emmit Till.

    I am going to work now, I will probably have to wade through crowds of Ku Klux Klan members standing around all over the city.

    There are millions of them. I swear those Ku Klux Klan flash mobs are destroying the city.

    What oh what will we do?


  10. bschloz says:

    “wanna be KKK’er”??
    Clearly I’m going to need a Getaway Plan.

    Sweet Rant
    can’t wait for the remix

  11. PB says:

    Hadn’t heard from Poor, Downtrodden Middle-Aged White Guy in awhile. Good to know the rest of the world is apparently still out to get you.

  12. Gal says:

    Tracy – you do know that The Color Purple was not Oprah’s movie, right?

  13. PB says:

    …Oprah was in it and like how our moon affects the ocean tides, anything within her Earth-sized orbit gets Oprahized and is the better for it.

  14. Tracy says:

    Thanks, PB, for reminding me.
    Yes I had it wrong. It was Spielberg’s movie of the book by Alice Walker, I just remembered Oprah’s powerful performance. Because it WAS moving, so was Whoopi Goldberg’s. As opposed to The Help.

    I am glad you caught that.

  15. Dillo says:

    I agree 100% with Jack’s review. I was born in Texas and can still clearly remember drinking fountains and restrooms labeled “colored only” and the concept of “separate but equal”. I’m so glad my folks moved our family to California when I was 3. I thought this film captured so many of the people that I remember from my childhood – the Junior League “magnolia sisters” with their subtly disguised but still shameful bigotry, their spineless drunk husbands, and the “old family retainers” who were, after all, only a few generations removed from their slave ancestors and who were still regarded as second class citizens. It’s my generation – the Baby Boomers – and not Generation X that were raised by the black “help” and who were far better off because of it. While we’ve all been brought up to know about Medgar Evers and Dr King, this is one of the first films I’ve ever seen that got to the emotional heart of how it felt to be one of “those” people. The scene where Hilly makes the allegations about some of her silverware being stolen made me want to take her and shake her until her teeth rattled – but it was all too real. I thought some of the performances were amazing, although I did giggle quite a bit at Brian Kerwin playing a typical Southern redneck drunk husband after his stint on “One Life to Live” as the drunkard Charlie Banks. Sissy Spacek was brilliant as Hilly’s crazy mother, and the range of emotions that played across Emma Stone’s face were part of a performance that was a real tour de force. However, the real stars were Viola and Octavia, and it would be a real crime if they don’t walk away with Oscars. I kind of laughed at Cicely Tyson’s nod to “Miss Jane Pittman” in her role as Constantine, although I felt it was a well deserved tribute. The music was well chosen and provided its own kind of commentary. The set decoration was right on – I could almost see the moss hanging from the trees and taste the grits. Tracy, perhaps you need to go see the movie again. At the Cinemark Merriam, the print was good, the sound quality was good, and there were no distractions from the quality of the film. I’m like the reviewer in the San Francisco Chronicle with the little man jumping up and down on his chair clapping. This is an excellent film and should not be missed.

  16. jack p. says:

    work print
    Hey Dillo,
    The film received an A+ CinemaScore via audience research this week. That’s almost unheard of. In Tracy’s defense I believe she attended a VERY-Advance recruited research screening of the movie to which no press and no reviewers were allowed. Why? Because it was still a work print—as in no credits yet on the film and with certain color and sound corrections as well as edits still in the making. So no FINAL judgement should’ve been made from it!
    Jay Leno on the TONIGHT SHOW probably said it best when he referred to “The Help” as the best movie’s he’s seen this year!

  17. chuck says:

    Ya know Tracy, I bet Jay Leno would want ya to see it again!
    Heck, why not?

    Hell, if a milktoast substitute for Johnny Carson from Hollywood says its great, then your experience seeing it, must be incorrect!!

    What we really need is a Communist Cambodian re-education camp for morons like Tracy, who just don’t comprehend the horrors of separate drinking fountains, and Plessy v Fergusen 60 years ago.

    What we really need, is a more current movie. Perhaps illustrating the intrepid black youths at the Wisconsin Stae Fair, or our own Flash mobs, or the thousands of beatings, murders, and riiots caused by violent African Americans every year.


    Get used to a lot more of it.

    Maybe in the future, as citizens are hunkered down in their basements, hiding from angry violent mobs, we can kill some time, watching this very movie.

    The future, is, as you can see from reading the paper, right around the corner.

    Be a friend to violence, know it well, understand it, it will be a part of your familie’s life.

  18. chuck says:

    Here is a movie, made in California yesterday!
    Its a far more realistic portent of things coming soon to alll of our neighborhoods.

    Its actually very informative.

    As usual, everyone talks during the whole movie, but, in this case, it all makes so much sense.


    Watch it to the end.

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