The Help: Books on Screen (with giveaway)

Editor’s Note: We usually run our Books on Screen column on Thursdays, but this highly anticipated movie opens Wednesday August 10, and since 5 Minutes for Mom contributor Christie was able to attend an advance screening of the Help when she was on her Winnie-the-Pooh and Cars 2 junket, I wanted to share her review as early as we were allowed.

Bring your tissues to The Help! Christie O. Reviews…

On August 10th, the film adaptation of the New York Times Best Seller “The Help” makes it into theaters and there is one word that comes into my mind every time I think about it. The word is important.

It’s not just that you have to drag everyone you know to see this movie, it’s important for you drag everyone you know to see this movie.

It is amazing. It is an eye-opener.

It was and is, truly, important.

The Plot

The movie is set in the 1960’s during the civil rights movement. “Skeeter” Phelan (Emma Stone), a recent college-graduate, returns home to Jackson, Mississippi sans husband; a near travesty since college was something akin to husband-shopping for her friends at that time, who all returned with a husband instead of a degree and immediately settled down to have children.

But despite pressure from friends and family, Skeeter didn’t fit that mold.

She was an independent, budding journalist and writer at heart who wanted to wait to find a husband and having done both myself, I identified with Skeeter. I identified with her passion, her independence, her heart and her longing for truth as a journalist.thehelpmovie

As part of becoming a “real” writer and trying to woo a publisher in New York City, Skeeter decides to interview the maids living in her hometown. The only thing is, she can’t get any of them to talk. It was not only a faux pas to speak to the maids (in fact it was considered by some to be disease-spreading to even share the same bathroom with the help even though ironically, it was the help who ultimately raised the children in the home). But even more than that, it was downright dangerous, not only for Skeeter but for the maids.

But Skeeter opens up that can of worms anyway with one question, ““Do you ever dream of being something else?”
What starts out as an interview turns into an expose’ and with that, you are taken on a series of twists and turns that will have you laughing out loud in absolute hysterics and then, in the very same scene horrified, gasping with shock and crying. It’s that powerful.

The writing, the acting, the sets, costumes and the filmmaking transport you directly into 1960’s Jackson, Mississippi, and oh my goodness was I salivating over the fried chicken that Minnie was teaching Celia Foote (Jessica Chastain)to cook. The breakout screenplay writer and director, Tate Taylor, who was actually childhood friends with the book’s author, Kathryn Stockett, does amazing justice not only to the period they were trying to convey, but to the book.
Tate and Stockett celebrating when her book hit the NYTimes Best Seller List

The movie is complete with a powerhouse cast that includes Academy Award nominee Viola Davis (Aibileen), Emma Stone, Octavia Spencer (Minnie), and Oscar Winner Sissy Spacek, all who give the movie depth and heart.

The Book Vs the Movie

I read the book and it was a page turner. I finished it in three sittings. (It would have been two, but you know how that goes.)

The movie did not drift far from the book either, in fact there were a few differences, mostly subtle, but the kind of differences I was ok with. What I believe was the key element to the seamless transition from book to movie was the fact that Taylor and Stocket were childhood friends and they knew this story firsthand.

Because this was Taylor’s first screenplay, Dreamworks’ co-chairman and CEO Stacey Snider admits she took a chance on him, but now admits it was a good move. Tate was not far removed from what went on in Jackson; he grew up there, even filmed scenes in one a good friend’s home and one of the maids in the movie was a maid who actually (and ironically) raised him. I always love hearing the story behind the story, because nine times out of ten, that story is just as good. Just like this one.

If you’re wondering if the book was better, I have to be honest. The movie wasn’t better than the book or vice versa either and that is very rare for me; I am usually sorely disappointed by the movie version of whatever book I ruined by watching the movie.

Final Thoughts

The Help is deep-rooted with ironic twists and turns but like the book, this movie is about courage. It’s about bravery and fear and the ability to confront your own demons and still find it somewhere inside to laugh at yourself.

Skeeter and all of the women of The Help became my heroes and they will become yours too.

Go see it. And do yourselves a favor: don’t forget the tissues.
GIVEAWAYThe Giveaway is closed.

Oh hey — have we got a great giveaway for YOU!
For one lucky reader, Disney & Dreamworks is giving away a great prize-pack to one of you! It includes the following:

  • A T-Shirt from The Help
  • A Pocket Jotter and Pen
  • A Fan
  • A Nail File & Mirror

Just leave a comment below. We will announce the winner on August 17.

* * *

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Disclosure: Disney paid Christie’s expenses for the press junket in LA. The opinions expressed are Christie’s.

Guest contributor Christie O. blogs at Average Moms Wear Capes and contributes to 5 Minutes for Mom


  1. says

    I’ve been working my way through The Help on audio and cannot wait to see the movie. I’ve heard several people say that the movie is great. I’d love to win!

  2. Susan B says

    Being from the Deep South (AL), so much of this book hit home–possibly too close at times. Such an excellent book and I cannot wait to see the movie!

  3. Annette says

    Unfortunately, I had never heard of this book but I am looking forward to taking my Mom to see this film. She is 87 years old, I’m sure she will be able to relate and enjoy, as she was at one time, considered “The Help”

  4. Deb says

    I’ve been waiting for this movie to come out! I read the book last summer and have been anxious ever since I heard the movie was in production. So excited to see it!

  5. katie says

    I don’t read often and I read this book within 4 days. I couldn’t tear myself away. I was so unhappy to finish it because it made me want more. Can’t wait to see the movie tonight!

  6. lisa says

    I love all the information you gave! I can’t wait to take all my friends to see the movie. I am going to forward this site, so they can read it and get excited to see the movie!


  7. Lorraine Skeeter says

    Reading the book validated what my late grandmother encounted as a young lady working while living with a family. when I read the book I felt that we were having a conversation in real time. I will be attending the movie with my daughter, granddaughters,and daughter-in-laws. The book has been my best reading meterials in recent time.

  8. Brenda says

    My sister raved about a book with elephant in the title. There is no comparison to The Help. Going to see the movie tomorrow.

  9. Shannon Ng says

    I was caught by the book and cried through the movie. The story is definitely strong enough to handle a book and a movie. The characters are not good or evil, they’re mostly whole. Thanks for such great writing.

  10. Myra Hairston says

    This story reminds me of my family. So many of my ancestors WERE ‘The Help’ and consequently became mothers of ‘light skinned’ children. I can understand why no one wanted to talk, they were automatically distrustful. Very well presented by the author.

  11. Martha C says

    Saw the movie last night with a group of friends and loved it! I so agree it was as good as the book and I usually don’t like the movies as much or it bugs me as I watch. I would love this prize package…maybe even share it with my girlfriends! :)

  12. Jenny says

    Read the book…loved it. Took my sixteen year old daughter to see the movie today and we both loved it. True that it was not far off the book. I loved the actress who played Skeeter. The whole movie was believable!! Thanks to the movie makers for finally making a Great Movie!!

  13. Stephanie G. says

    I saw “The Help” this afternoon with my husband. We both thoroughly enjoyed it. This movie is a “keeper”…I will purchase it immediately upon release in DVD format! All I can say is “wow” what a great film.

  14. Melanie Martin says

    I loved both the movie and the book. I felt that both were a gift to me for so many reasons. As an African American woman I appreciated a treatment of this subject matter that was marketed to everyone. As an elementary school counselor I love the message that segregation hurts EVERYONE involved; it hurts the people who are on both sides of the fence. As the mother of a little girl it reminded me how important it is to make sure she knows how special she is to me everyday. I came right home from the movie, held my daughter and told her “You are kind, you are smart and you are important.”

  15. Wanda says

    After seeing the movie this afternoon, I wrote my own review and thoughts. In spite of many media, organizations et al trying to controversial-ize the film, the theatre was packed with equal numbers of blacks and whites. I can honestly say we all left the film vowing to be more courageous in our daily lives and to be better people. Yeah, the movie did that.

  16. Cynthia Allen says

    I laughed I cried I almost in this day in age saw slight similarities in some people’s actions today, I am now wanting to read the book, you’ve done a great job! Amazing work, thank you.

  17. barbara simmons says

    I was uncertain about seeing it because I wondered if it was going to be another condescending movie about black women. However, a friend of mine who rarely has positive things to say saw it and returned a second time to take her family because it was so uplifting. I went today but got there after it started. Since I don’t want to miss any of it, I’ll return tomorrow.

  18. grace barnes says

    I “read” (listened to) the book on audio. I can’t wait to see the movie which I will be doing this week. Not often do we see this genre presented from the view of the maid. Usually it is mainly from the perspective of the whites for whom the maids worked. This is different and should be interesting… and by the way, I would love to win the tee shirt!

  19. Kimberly aisha Hashmi says

    WOW! What an impressive review! I am shocked to this day that there still seems to be so many issues with relatio to the white/african american relationship. My husband is from Pakistan and though I do not ALWAYS face issues in public, sometimes I still do. I have been married for 26 years to him and we have three wonderful children. I am amazed at the way people look at me or my family sometimes! I empathize with anyone of that genre. I cannot wait to see this movie and will definaitly tell anyone who will listen about it! In my circle that means about 4,000+ and more! I will be asking at our loval masjid to announce this movie as a must see. It is important to know our past so we will not be doomed to repeat it! And, asking the “help” is a wonderful perspective to get! Can you imagine a reporter asking the “help” of today, all of whom the majority seems to be hispanic? Idea, anyone?

  20. michelle says

    loved the book & movie both! can’t wait to see what katherine will write about next… will def have to see movie again:)


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