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Reviews & Ratings for
The Help More at IMDbPro »

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7 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Hollywood Plastic Dreck. Paging Divine

Author: greatsewing1 from United States
16 August 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Despite a cast of hardworking actors, this dull sudsy goody two shoes comedy drama is shallow and plastic, with neither enough humor, drama nor interest to sustain its two hours of pretty images and one dimensional ninnies. At the core of the comedy is a scene out of Pink Flamingoes that takes center stage when a bitchy southern queen eats a chocolate pie from her maid that has more of her maid than chocolate pudding. UGH. Not my opinion of good taste, this film makes every white woman in the south a bitch and every black woman holier than thou. Where is Michele Bachman's opinion, now that we need her. Yeah, I can see Oscars lining up to the ceiling, but not for a dull script and a waste of two hours. Predictable and trivial. No disrespect to any maid, but this is just sentimental sanctimonious crap.

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11 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Good but a missed opportunity

7/10
Author: raywarrenva from United States
11 August 2011

I had eagerly awaited the movie as the book was an absolute masterpiece. I was rather disappointed.

My guess is that people who have not read the book will like the movie. It is well acted and makes for a good story -- just a different one from the story written in the book.

One semi major character is changed from a very complicated person -- sympathetic but hardly enlightened or heroic -- to something entirely different -- a converted true believer. Other characters simply become flatter and more "stock" than in the book -- though that may be inevitable when adapting a novel written in three first person voices into a movie.

The main problem with the movie is that it really does not attempt to capture the violence, brutality and fear of the period. In the book these things hang over the characters and there is a real sense of danger. In the movie "danger" is spoken of but hardly palpable. Segregationists (aside from the one villain, Hilly) appear more rude than brutal. As a (white) southern man who lived in that era I know it was a lot tougher than that.

Overall, it is a good movie. If the source material did not exist I'd rate it higher. But being adapted from a much more nuanced and stronger work, it suffers in comparison.

See it. But read the book. And especially take young people to see it who may not be willing to read the book first. Because even glossed over, it does show a side of American history that the younger generation may not fully appreciate. Maybe it will spark discussion and maybe some of them will read the book for a fuller understanding of how things used to be.

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12 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

So help me...

3/10
Author: jc-osms from United Kingdom
23 December 2011

My wife had recently read the source novel and was most keen to see this movie adaptation, plus I have a keen interest in the US Civil Rights movement and was likewise keen to see it. Perhaps it helps to be an American to appreciate some of the nuances a bit better, but I basically found this a sentimentalised and overly patronising story, with as much resonance as an episode of "The Waltons" or "Little House On The Prairie". The basic idea of the young college girl writing up her town-life experience and causing controversy as she does so was used before in "Peyton Place", that historical but much decorated cinematic piece of soap opera, which for me is about the level the film achieves.

In addition, one of the major plot-lines (regarding the shall I say, tainted "gift" of a pie) was immediately apparent to me because of a similar scene I recalled from the seminal 70's TV series "Roots", which dealt with the big issue here more exhaustively and realistically. There are lots of episodic scenes demonstrating the ebb and flow of "the help's" struggle for acceptance, with some drop-in insertions to the narrative from real-time, real-life events such as the murder of Medgar Evers, but I felt the direction catered to the cosy and felt little real drama throughout.

Similarly I felt the acting to be showy and shallow by pretty much everyone in the cast, indeed no-one came across as real and I failed to engage with the characters. The depiction of time and place is excellent but students of this era looking for insight and emotional connection with this shaming episode of modern American history should buy or rent out "Roots" instead. Oh and make sure you get out of your seat quickly at the end to avoid the overblown Mary J Blige power-ballad over the end-titles which only adds to the disconnect here.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Good but the book was way better

7/10
Author: evancyl
7 May 2014

The book was a fantastic read and I think the movie did a decent job of bringing it to life. Set in 1960s Mississippi, The Help is about a white girl, Skeeter Phelan, who collaborates with black maids to tell their stories of what it's like to work in a white household. They hope to narrow the racial divide and improve conditions for blacks. Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer put up excellent performances as the maids, Aibileen and Minny. As president of the county's Ladies' League and leader of the racist campaign to build separate toilets for blacks in every household (not to mention Skeeter's friend), Hilly was also just as smooth and poisonous as I had imagined her to be. Emma Stone was alright as Skeeter, but a lot of her inner struggles in the book didn't really come out, so I found it kind of hard to connect with her.

While I think the movie was pretty good, its inability to make us think about our behaviour in the present-day context stopped it from being great. I also didn't like how some of the characters' reactions to Skeeter writing the book (Stuart and Skeeter's mother) were made more extreme, as it led to an oversimplification of the situation in that era.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

The movie is about the civil rights in the 1960's and about Skeeter a young, white Journalist who is writing about the life of the black nannies.

6/10
Author: Marcel Langner from Hildesheim, Germany
16 December 2013

The movie is not bad at all, but its way too over-hyped. I guess its because of the theme. Films with the topic "civil rights" or "second world war" and others always get a bit better reviews. The film is touching, but it didn't get me so far, that i would say "wow, that makes me really cry" What really annoys me about the film is the Hollywood/American touch of the film. Sorry guys, i have nothing against America, but its a bit not authentic- and i didn't mean the not authentic behaviour of Jackson Ville, what the author/director intended. I mean especially skeeter, who is that innocent and such a perfect girl, without any appeal of racism or other bad characteristics. The whole impact she achieves with her book seems to me quite unauthentic. And for me the facts about the civil war are even a bit whitewashed or sugar coated. They could even draw more attention how bad the situation for the black people really was.

What i did like was the combination of martin Luther Kings parts of his speeches and the impact on Jackson ville.

In conclusion i liked the film, but if you want to see a more realistic and for me more touching film about civil rights, than i would rather watch "to kill a mockingbird" from 1962 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0056592/?ref_=nv_sr_1

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A Study in Cruelty

9/10
Author: Roedy Green from Victoria, BC. Canada
18 December 2012

This is a movie about shallow cruel women living in the 1960s in Mississippi and their black maids. Cicely Tyson, Mary Steenburgen, Sissy Spacek, Leslie Jordan (Bernard from Boston Legal) and Allison Janney all have minor but juicy roles. Tyson is like watching an alien. Your eyes are glued.

The cruelty is about putting others down with a big smile, patronising, and shunning. The main villain is Hilly Holbrook played by Bryce Dallas Howard (a supercilious female). I ached for revenge. Some revenge came in the middle of the movie, but there was no grand finale of revenge the way you would expect from Hollywood. She just plodded on and on being her bitchy, self-absorbed self.

The scene that hit me most emotionally was when a maid was fired without cause, and she went into the child's room she had been caring for and touched each mark on the wall where she had recorded the child's height over the years.

One of the most interesting characters was Celia Foote played by Jessica Chastain. We are introduced to her as a skinny Marilyn Monroe clone air head bimbo who has not the ability to even boil water. Gradually she becomes a more tragic character, even though she remains an air head bimbo. The townspeople are unbelievable rude to her. Her maid gradually teaches her to cook and to have some self confidence. The message is she too has a right to happiness and respect even if she is stupid. The others are jealous because she landed the handsomest and richest guy in town. It is a beautiful movie because you stay sympathetic to her even when she continues to get drunk and barf at a fancy dress ball.

One strange feature of the movie is it had it happy ending about 3/4 the way through, then they just kept tacking on denouement after denouement like some spoof symphony that could not get on with ending.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

One of the best movies I have seen in years

10/10
Author: Jon Simon
17 December 2012

How many times have we searched in vain for a "good movie". We all say, "they just don't make good movies anymore".

THIS is one of them. I watched it from start to finish. I would watch it again and tell others to watch it. It was one of the finest movies I have watched in a long, long time. The entire cast did a fantastic believable job in making this story come to life.

It was something you could watch with the entire family. It literally gives you an inside view of how "hired help" was treated back then. It also showed you what it was like to be part of the upper elite and how so many dared not speak their opinions for fear of being cast out.

It showed you that not only did the help do their jobs but some of them honestly cared for members of the family they worked for.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Outstanding

9/10
Author: rochelleaac from United Kingdom
1 December 2012

Having never read the book but always wanting too, The help was an obvious choice whilst choosing a film for a quiet night in with friends.

Set in the 1960's, The Help tells the story of two black maids trying to make a decent living in the south. A heart warming, controversial tale of a struggle to be heard in a civilisation full of deaf ears.

Kudos to Taylor for representing both sides of the story. She portrays the ignorant racists as well as Skeeter's endeavour to make the world realise the immorality of the oppression. Emma Stone plays this well, despite bordering patronising a few times. Minny on the other hand manages to find a balance between an eye rolling, finger snapping, sarcastic stereotype and a headstrong, witty character. Aibileen also does this and still manages to keep it genuine as she creates a bond with one of the children she cares for telling her 'you is kind, you is smart, you is important' this was an important relationship in the film because it educates the audience about the emotional bond that developed between maids and those that they cared for.

Skeeter's tell all book provides an opportunity for a power shift from the black staff to their white owners and back and forth, providing a roller coaster of entertainment for the viewer.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Well-acted, emotionally satisfying human drama

8/10
Author: James Hitchcock from Tunbridge Wells, England
1 November 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

There have been a number of films about the Deep South during the Civil Rights era, mostly ("Mississippi Burning" and "Ghosts of Mississippi" being examples) concentrating on the political struggle for equality. "The Help" is a recent film which brings a slightly different approach to this period, concentrating on the relationship between well-to-do white Southerners and their black maids.

Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan is a young white woman from a wealthy family in Jackson, Mississippi. She has ambitions to make a career in writing and journalism, and plans to write a book about the experiences of black maids (referred to as "the help") working for white families. Unlike most of her friends, Skeeter is a liberal on racial issues and is horrified by the bigoted views which she has heard other white women express, often quite openly in front of their black servants. She hopes that her book will help to expose this sort of prejudice, but finds that no maids are willing to be interviewed.

Eventually, however, two maids, Aibileen Clark and Minny Jackson, come forward. Both have good cause to be dissatisfied with their employers, especially Minny who has not only been sacked but also falsely accused of theft. Minny's employer Hilly is a particularly unpleasant individual, with an obsession with forcing black maids to use separate toilet facilities from the families they work for. The real reason for Minny's sacking was that she used the family's indoor bathroom rather than use an outside toilet during a thunderstorm. (One thing I have never understood why people like Hilly, who obviously has a poisonous dislike of all black people, did not simply employ a white maid; perhaps they could not find any white women willing to work for the low wages that black maids were paid).

Some films with a "civil rights" theme, "Mississippi Burning" being an example, have a male-dominated cast, but "The Help" is very much a "women's film" with all the main roles, both heroines and villains, being taken by women. There is an attempt to give Skeeter a boyfriend, but their brief friendship- it never really deserves the name "romance"- fizzles out when he disapproves of her book and of her views on the race question. With that exception, all the male actors play very minor roles.

With the exception of Bryce Dallas Howard from "The Village" and Viola Davis, who greatly impressed me in "Doubt", most of the leading actresses in the film were faces I had never seen before. (I must admit that I did not recognise Howard, here a brunette although normally a redhead). I understand that Jessica Chastain actually made seven feature films in 2011- a quite remarkable work-rate for a modern actress- but this is the only one I have yet seen. Chastain plays Celia Foote, Skeeter's only ally among Jackson's housewives. Although Celia's husband is from the city's wealthy elite, she herself is from a working-class background, which means that the likes of Hilly despise her as poor white trash who has got above herself. Although historically many poor whites were just as racist as rich ones, if not more so, Celia's experience of being on the receiving end of bigotry makes her a much more liberal employer. (Minny goes to work for her after being sacked by Hilly).

Chastain's is one of a number of excellent performances in this film; the others come from Emma Stone as Skeeter, Davis (even better here than she was in "Doubt") as Aibileen and Octavia Spencer as the sharp-tongued Minny, a woman determined to fight back against prejudice. (Spencer won a "Best Supporting Actress" Oscar).

I would have a couple of criticisms of the film. Howard as Hilly, like some of the other actresses playing the snooty society matrons, plays her character rather too much as a one-dimensional stereotype, the snobbish upper-class bitch. The sub-plot involving Minny's chocolate pie seemed out of place, the sort of vulgar humour which would be more at home in a Farrelly Brothers gross-out comedy than in a supposedly serious film. I would not, however, agree with the criticism some have made that the film demeans African-Americans by showing them as dependent upon whites for their emancipation. It is the black characters here who display real courage in bringing their working conditions to public notice, far more so than does Skeeter. She risks nothing worse than losing the friendship of a few people she never cared for in the first place; they risk the loss of their jobs and their livelihoods, and possibly also violence from white racists.

Despite my criticisms, I felt that overall "The Help" was an excellent film- a well-acted, emotionally satisfying human drama with some powerful acting performances, and one which shed an interesting light on this period of American history. 8/10

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A wonderful movie - don't miss it!

9/10
Author: esther-hartwig from Stuttgart, Germany
7 October 2012

I loved this one. It has everything a great movie needs.

First of all, a good storyline, supported by all those little subplots about humans and human tragedy, about suffering and excelling oneself. Despite the tough subject on the background of legalized racism this film managed to make me laugh again and again.

It's heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. It's about courage and cowardice, about all kinds of love and hatred, about values and standards, and you never get the feeling of being told what to think.

Strictly everybody in this movie, even if they are horrible people, is a human being. I loved how the characters were developed. I loved pretty much all of them, even the despicable ones for being so outstanding in their role.

Just on the side, without even thinking about it, the audience gets a history lesson as well and a peek into the lives of women in the 1960s.

I think this is a fantastic feminist movie - and I mean that in the best sense possible.

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