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Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close Movie Review

Director: Stephen Daldry

Actors: Tom Hanks,  Thomas Horn  Sandra Bullock,  Zoe Caldwell, Max von Sydow, Viola Davis

Release Date : Jan 20th 2012


Based on the novel by Jonathan Saefran Foer, ELIC is about a bright young boy named Oskar Schell trying to make sense of the world around him after his beloved dad’s death in the attack of 9/11. When his father was still alive, they’d play a game called the Renaissance Expeditions – scavenger hunts that led Oskar all around New York. His father had designed it so that his son was put into situations to talk to people, and he left clues everywhere. Still struggling with his grief a year after his father’s death, Oskar finds an unusual key in an envelope with the name “Black” written on it. He is determined to complete the last Renaissance Expedition to stretch his final moments with his dad. He visits every single person with the last name “Black”, and the journey takes him all around Manhattan. Every door that opens has a heartbreaking story to tell, and Oskar realizes that the key may open the unlikeliest box ever, which may lead him back to the unlikeliest source ever – home.

Extremely Loud was incredibly moving. At one point I just stopped fighting back the tears and let it flow. The entire theater probably heard my hiccups. Putting the acting and filming aside, the very storyline about people coping with grief is heartbreaking, especially in the attack of 9/11. I was only two years old when it happened and I don’t remember anything about it, but through this movie I could feel the pain and anguish the families went through from Oskar’s perspective.

We see Oskar trying to mend himself, trying to hold on to his dad, trying to stretch the time he had left with him. He feels far away from his mom, and carries a very heavy burden on his shoulders. As one might expect, this movie calls for and demands a strong performance on the child actor’s part, the talented first-timer Thomas Horn, who delivered beyond what was anticipated. Even so, it was actually Tom Hanks (who played the father) and Sandra Bullock (in the role of the mother) and the supporting cast who drove the movie right to my heart. Oh, and don’t forget the mysterious inconsolable mute Renter (Max von Sydow), with the words “Yes” and “No” tattooed on his left and right hands respectively, who develops a unique friendship with our young protagonist.

ELIC is rated PG-13 for “emotional thematic material, some disturbing images, and strong language.” Oskar does use a variety of profanity. He says the f-word, two s-words, and a few others. He deliberately bruises and pinches himself as a response to his overwhelming emotional pain. Some scenes are intense, and only because the characters are well rounded and tangible. Yet the movie did not let me leave the theater feeling depressed – rather, the intertwined storylines were all about a journey of healing. The score was beautiful – it added such depth and brought out the poignancy in every single scene. Parents should be aware that this movie is not suitable for kids. This is a Pickit! Ages 15+

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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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