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 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.
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 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.
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.