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.