I finally saw “The Help”. I’d read the book awhile ago, but didn’t get a chance to see the movie when it came out. A friend of mine bought the DVD and let me borrow it, so I was able to watch it last weekend. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it or not. I’d heard mixed reviews. Most people I knew who had read the book and then seen the movie didn’t particularly care for the movie; but those who only saw the movie and hadn’t read the book thought the movie was excellent. So, I wasn’t sure what to expect.
For me, I really enjoyed the movie. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, but enjoyed the book, I think you have to approach it with the mindset that not everything that was covered in the book is going to be in the movie. If it did, the movie would be about 10 hours long…because “The Help” is a thick book, and there’s lots of detail that didn’t make the movie version.
The movie starts at what would be about the halfway point of the book. For me, that was ok; the ‘meat’ of the story is very much intact in the movie. My husband, who hasn’t read the book, and who I didn’t think would particularly enjoy the movie, laughed throughout the movie. His favorite scenes were the used toilets in Miss Hilly’s yard, and Minnie’s revenge toward Hilly after she is fired.
Emma Stone plays Skeeter Phelan, an aspiring journalist living in Jackson, Mississippi during the 1960’s. Being from the South, her family and friends all have colored maids. These maids cook, clean and raise the children of the families they work for. Skeeter’s first job as a journalist is writing a domestic column for the local newspaper. Not having any knowledge of how to do domestic chores, Skeeter enlists the aide of Aibileen Clark, the maid of one of her best friends. While working on the column with Aibileen, Skeeter has an idea of writing a book from the maids’ point of view of working for white families. She gets Aibileen to tell her story, and then asks if Aibileen can get the other maids in town to help out. At first, only Aibileen will talk, but soon her friend Minnie Jackson adds her story. Eventually enough of the maids will talk to Skeeter, and Skeeter will be able to get her book published. She has changed names and locations so that no one will know it’s about Jackson. The maids are still nervous, so Minnie adds an embarrassing story about her former employer, Miss Hilly, that will ensure Hilly will convince everyone in town that the book is not about Jackson.
Emma Stone is good as Skeeter, and Bryce Dallas Howard as Miss Hilly, is a believable Southern belle; but Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer and Sissy Spacek steal the movie. Viola Davis plays Aibileen Clark, and Octavia Spencer is her friend Minnie. Spencer, for the most part, is hilarious in her portrayal of Minnie, although there are some not-so-funny scenes with Minnie that Spencer plays equally as well. Probably the funniest performance in the movie is Spacek’s. She plays Missus Walters, Hilly’s mother, and is one of the few people in Jackson who know about Minnie’s revenge. She plays it to the hilt, and had my husband and I laughing so hard.
I recommend seeing this movie whether or not you’ve read the book.