Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Help (2011)

Aug. 20, 2011

71. The Help (2011)

Starring Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Bryce Dallas Howard, Octavia Spencer, and Jessica Chastain

Directed by Tate Taylor

Plot: “A look at what happens when a southern town's unspoken code of rules and behavior is shattered by three courageous women who strike up an unlikely friendship.” (from IMDb)

Yes, a new movie! The first film I’ve seen in theaters in quite awhile. I was going to wait and read the book before I saw this, but my sister was in town and wanted to go see it, so I did. This wasn't my favorite movie ever, but I definitely enjoyed watching it. I'm not sure what I think of it on a critical level.  You see, I saw on IMDb that a lot of people find this film to be racist. It didn't strike me as that way, but perhaps I just can't relate (?). I don’t think I will read the book, though. If you’ve seen this, what do you think? Is it a racist?


Of course, the '60s wardrobes, houses, cars, etc. are fabulously fun to see but I couldn't really enjoy them a whole lot because this kind of focused on the ugly part of the '60s, with racial prejudice and everything.

One of my favorite characters was Miss Celia (not pictured). I loved how giddy she was and that she really didn't care about skin color. I do think it was kind of mean of her to try to get back at Miss Hilly, though.

As for objectionable content, it is rated PG-13, mostly for language I assume (though there is also some violence, smoking, and—of course—racial prejudice). This bothers me because the swearing is so utterly unnecessary in the film that I have to wonder if they inserted it just for the ratings bump.

I love this picture—the glasses the typewriter, everything!

Viola Davis was just superb.

I really did like Emma Stone in this. I thought she did a great job; I just hope that this is the first in a series of better career choices (Easy A sounded awful).

Final verdict: Aside from the fact of some language issues and possible racism (still a little confused on that), I did enjoy this film! :)


  1. I think the issue with this movie is that it paints the black, Southern experience of the '60s through the eyes of a white person and makes it a story of a white girl coming to the rescue for the somewhat stereotypical black characters.  (The goodhearted Mammy type, the sassy maid, etc.  Though to give the actresses credit, Viola Davis especially, they did a great job at giving their characters depth and taking them beyond those stereotypes.)

    The movie tiptoes around the harsher truths of that time period and is a sanitized story of the Civil Rights era that's easy for white people of today to swallow.  Like we should all pat ourselves on the back because, after all, we're not racist like that anymore.  (Though let's face it, there is still a LOT of racism in this country.)  It's a little bit condescending and icky in that way.

    That said, I did enjoy the movie in spite of all that.  The acting is truly fine and the story is very emotional to watch.  Plus, like you said, the '60s era costumes and sets are fantastic.  I'm kind of torn on this one.  I totally understand where the critics are coming from, but at the same time I liked it on a superficial level.


  2. Really great observations, MC. I understand better now the issues with the film. I agree with you on your conflicted thoughts! It's too bad the era can't be dealt with by Hollywood with a bit more honesty.

  3. I haven't seen this (we have a theater in our basement which means we don't really make that many trips to the actual movie theater... also because I'm not so hot on modern films anyway, and if I really want to see it I can wait until DVD). I must admit, though, this film sparked my interest. I don't know if I'll go out and see it, but I think I'll watch it eventually when it comes out on Pay-per-view or something. I hear Viola Davis is getting a lot of Oscar buzz for it. 

  4. Yeah, I don't usually see a lot of new films either, but this one sparked my interest because it took place in the '60s.

  5. In that sense, than, the movie resembles the book (and was precisely where the book--while entertaining--fell apart for me). EVEN THOUGH the book has chapters told through the voice and observations of the African American characters I was uber aware that it was a white woman--and a privileged one at that who was a part of this system of employee-help once upon a time--who wrote the book. The book also relies on these stereotypes of the mammy figure and the sassy black maid AS WELL AS "poor white (Southern) trash elevated beyond its position in life" (in the form of Celia). For me, the book stopped short of being truly critical of racism, sexism, and classism and seemed to be more of a guilty white woman's apology to the black help she mostly ignored growing up. Again, fun read but not as thought provoking as it could have been. I suspect the movie follows suit.


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