The Help – Review

4/5 – The Help is kind. The Help is smart. The Help is important.

Okay, I know, I’m a little late to the party on The Help. It was one of the few Oscar nominees that I didn’t see in time for the Oscars. I waited for the DVD (and then some) before finally sitting down to watch it. I’m not sure what caused my hesitation. I think the poster just made it look a little too chick-lit like for my taste.

I was wrong. The Help is definitely not too chick-lit. The movie tells the story about some very heartwarming and bittersweet relationships between the woman who raise southern girls in the place of the girls’ mothers, and the dynamic shift that takes place when those girls grow up to be their former caretakers’ employers.

The movie has a lot of heart. If you enjoy the television series versions of Friday Night Lights or Parenthood, I would recommend The Help.

The Help also has it’s fair share of thrills. No, there aren’t any crazy chase sequences, but there are a few scenes involving the outcome of a horrible, but very justifiable prank that will keep the viewer very engaged.

As I was watching The Help, I couldn’t help but think that southern racists are kind of like Nazis, in that they’re a very easy go-to Hollywood villain. The southern racist and the Nazi are both easily reduced to being one-note villains in movies. They come on screen and you know they’re evil. But The Help does a good job of making each of the racist white women who make up the bulk of the film’s antagonists individuals and not reducing them to cookie cutter copies of each other.

Bryce Dallas Howard, in particular, stands out as the ruthless Hily Holbrook. At no point while watching The Help did I feel like Hily came from a cookie cutter. Bryce turned Hily Holbrook into a new classic movie villain. She played her perfectly, in that I hated Hily every time she was on screen and now am kind of afraid of Bryce Dallas Howard.

Look upon the face the evil!

If you rent the DVD, watch the extras that follow. It’s a rarity for me to ever recommend watching DVD extras, but those included with The Help are worth it, just to hear the remarkable story connecting actress Octavia Spencer,  writer/director Tate Taylor and novelist Kathryn Stockett.