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The Help: A Remarkable Roller Coaster of Emotions

Grade A

Starring Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard, Allison Janney

MPAA Rating PG – 13

Genre Drama

Theatrical Release August 10, 2011

The Help did an amazing job of stirring up all sorts of emotions in me – annoyance at Hilly Holbrook (she was meant to annoy), admiration for Minny and Aibileen, bafflement at Skeeter’s naivety, and disgust at Celia Foote. I was surprised at the anger I felt whenever the ladies held a bridge meeting and the way they spoke in their high-pitched voices, giggling and laughing and chattering away.

The Help is faithful to the novel by Kathryn Stockett. The plot intertwines the lives of three women back in 1962 Jackson, Mississippi: Aibileen, the narrator, a black maid who raises her 17th white child; Minny, who is exceptionally good at cooking and sass-mouthing – the latter getting her kicked out on the streets much too often; and ambitious Skeeter, a white graduate who is bent on becoming “a journalist, or a novelist, or maybe both.” The three women step together and write, in secret, a book about all the ups and downs of working as a black maid in the white communities, hence the line “Change begins with a whisper.”

The Help is appropriately rated PG-13. Already in the first five minutes I counted more than five “bad words”, most of them quite unnecessary. Another concern is smoking, although in the book, Skeeter and many of the ladies do smoke.

Again, I was surprised at the roller coaster of emotions The Help put me through. It was, at times, humorous, but they could have put more laugh-out-loud moments as Stockett did in the book without turning the film into a comedy. The cast was exceptional – Emma Stone was fantastic as Skeeter, and Octavia Spencer was hilarious as Minny. But the actress who broke my heart in the last few minutes of the film was adorable Emma Henry, who played Mae Mobley, the two-year old white baby girl Aibileen takes care of. Although her role was small, she did it with all her heart.

Don’t restrict yourself to thinking that this is a ladies’ movie. My dad enjoyed it very much, and whoever out there is looking for a feel-good, poignant, heartfelt drama, The Help is right for you. Anyone who loved the book will love the movie. Oh, and definitely go read the book. This is a Pickit! for ages 13+.

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