The Help… movie review

Adapted from the 2009 bestseller by Kathryn Stockett, The Help is the story of Eugenia
“Skeeter” Phelan as she first acknowledges the ironic double standard that applied to
colored domestics in the segregated South. Her only response (because outright activism
would have been far too radical) was to begin a study on the hired help in her hometown
of Jackson, Miss. Thus pushing the proverbial envelope in an unknown and possibly
dangerous direction.
Emma Stone, who gives a sympathetic and truly entertaining performance, plays Skeeter.
Fortunately, as is usually the case with films set in this time, it’s the women of color who
truly steal the spotlight and make it less about white discomfort and more about the
struggles black women faced for centuries. Viola Davis, who gained critical acclaim for
her stellar performance in Doubt gives an equally moving performance as the wise,
compassionate Aibileen who has dutifully raised white children for nearly all her life. If
you thought she deserved the Oscar for Doubt just wait until you see her in this role. Her
best friend Minny is played by Octavia Spencer, whose hot-headed attitude and
expressive facial features make her just as impressive, if not a bit intimidating to watch.
Bryce Dallas Howard is both highly entertaining and particularly insulting as Skeeter’s
longtime friend Hilly Holbrook, a stereotypical cross between southern belle and society
woman. The ever-enchanting Sissy Spacek, who provides wonderful comic relief in a few
otherwise dull scenes, plays her mother.
Now if anyone out there is interested in this film because of the period, believing it will
uplift you with tales of the Civil Rights Movement, save your money and watch a
documentary instead. This is one of the most unrealistic movies I’ve seen in a while from
its plot to the lack of southern accents. Anyone with family down south is aware of the
protocol used during Jim Crow and I can assure you in the days of “separate but equal”
and publicly advertised lynchings there’s no way Minny would have gotten away with
her one woman revolt. The Klan would have made sure of that.
However, if you’re looking for a story with strong black women (who aren’t actually men
dressed in drag) then you’ve got the right movie. As a composition The Help is
delightfully engaging despite it’s slow pace. At the end of the day it’s exactly as it should
be – interesting but only marginally thought-provoking.
The Help receives a PAR
Rating:
P…Horrible
PA…Tolerable
PAR…Good
PARL…Kinda Great
PARLÉ… Classic
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Adapted from the 2009 bestseller by Kathryn Stockett, The Help is the story of Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan as she first acknowledges the ironic double standard that applied to colored domestics in the segregated South. Her only response (because outright activism would have been far too radical) was to begin a study on the hired help in her hometown of Jackson, Miss. Thus pushing the proverbial envelope in an unknown and possibly dangerous direction.

Emma Stone, who gives a sympathetic and truly entertaining performance, plays Skeeter. Fortunately, as is usually the case with films set in this time, it’s the women of color who truly steal the spotlight and make it less about white discomfort and more about the struggles Black women faced for centuries. Viola Davis, who gained critical acclaim for her stellar performance in Doubt gives an equally moving performance as the wise, compassionate Aibileen who has dutifully raised white children for nearly all her life. If you thought she deserved the Oscar for Doubt just wait until you see her in this role. Her best friend Minny is played by Octavia Spencer, whose hot-headed attitude and expressive facial features make her just as impressive, if not a bit intimidating to watch. Bryce Dallas Howard is both highly entertaining and particularly insulting as Skeeter’s longtime friend Hilly Holbrook, a stereotypical cross between southern belle and society woman. The ever-enchanting Sissy Spacek, who provides wonderful comic relief in a few otherwise dull scenes, plays her mother.

Now if anyone out there is interested in this film because of the period, believing it will uplift you with tales of the Civil Rights Movement, save your money and watch a documentary instead. This is one of the most unrealistic movies I’ve seen in a while from its plot to the lack of southern accents. Anyone with family down South is aware of the protocol used during Jim Crow and I can assure you in the days of “separate but equal” and publicly advertised lynchings there’s no way Minny would have gotten away with her one woman revolt. The Klan would have made sure of that. However, if you’re looking for a story with strong Black women (who aren’t actually men dressed in drag) then you’ve got the right movie. As a composition The Help is delightfully engaging despite it’s slow pace. At the end of the day it’s exactly as it should be – interesting but only marginally thought-provoking.

 

The Help receives a PAR

Rating:

P…Horrible

PA…Tolerable

PAR…Good

PARL…Kinda Great

PARLÉ… Classic  

 

 

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Kevin Benoit

Kevin Benoit is the editor of Parlé Magazine. He founded the magazine while in college and continues to run it today. Follow him on IG: @parlewithme Read more articles by Kevin.

Kevin Benoit has 1777 posts and counting. See all posts by Kevin Benoit

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