We also hesitate to trust them when it comes to tear-jerking, sentimental movies. They’ve seen a lot of movies, they are a bunch of egg heads. They like to be superior, and they can be cynical. Also, they can be wrong when it comes to movies with moral messages and black-and-white characters. They have been taught that morality is simplistic and makes art less interesting.
The Help is one of those movies that is getting heat from a few critics. We are not sure why, because reading the reviews, most of the critics decline to give examples to support their opinions that the movie “glosses over its racist themes” or that it “occasionally flirts with utter irresponsibility.” All of this sounds like a knee-jerk, politically correct reaction to us. You can’t get conflicts like this perfectly, and the movie was true to the book, which plenty of people loved.
The reviews were mostly favorable. The only unfavorable ones with any merit were the ones that said that the movie was emotionally exhausting. We cried multiple times in this one, so bring some tissues. One blogger grew up in a southern family that had a maid. Her father was raised by one. This movie felt very true to that culture, with its manners, Junior League members, southern accents, marriage mania, obsession with how they are being perceived in society, and old-fashioned roles for women. What’s interesting is that a lot of that hasn’t changed. The maids are gone, but that’s about it. It’s cool to see how far we’ve come in some areas, but some things remain the same.
Talking to people who were around in the ‘60s, it’s amazing how many say, “They got that time just right.” My grandma was nice to her maid, but she said that she knew some people who definitely thought they were better. In a lot of ways, it’s a very healing movie, because we’re reminded that the Skeeters and Abileens of the world won and continue to usher in a more honest way of life.
So critics can whine about stereotypes, manipulation, how it was “too Disney,” “simplistic,” and too much of a feel-good movie. Yeah, it’s not subtle. Yeah the fried chicken part was…weird and stereotypical. But the audiences are loving the movie and feeling inspired by the AMAZING performances and the characters’ bravery. You rarely get a feel-good movie that feels this good.
We read the book, and we actually liked the movie better. The performances gave it an extra emotional punch. It’s rare that you feel more deeply in a movie than in the book, which has more time to work on your emotions. It was funny and affecting. Once again, Emma Stone plays the girl that smart girls who don't really fit in can relate to. Is she the new, female Tom Hanks? She's got the "everywoman" quality with none of the dowdiness.
Bottom line: If you are a woman, you will love this movie. If you are a guy, you might. If you are a critic, you might sit in your armchair with your old wine, Tolstoy in hand, and say something like, “It was droll, so very droll.” But no one will hear you over the applause like what we heard in our theater when the credits rolled.
Movie Grade: A-