Movie Review: The Help

Movie Review: The Help

The Help

PG-13 for thematic material.
Genre: Drama
Running Time: 2 hours 17 minutes


A 1960’s-era Mississippi debutante sends her community into an uproar by conducting a series of interviews with the black servants behind some of her community’s most prominent families. Skeeter has just graduated from college and is now eager to launch her career as a writer. In a moment of inspiration she decides to focus her attention on the black female servants who work in her community. Her first subject is Aibileen, the devoted housekeeper who has been employed by Skeeter’s best friend’s family for years.

By speaking with Aibileen, Skeeter becomes an object of scorn to the wealthy locals who view her actions as directly challenging the established social order. Before long, even more servants come forward to tell their stories and Skeeter discovers that friendship can blossom under the most unlikely of circumstances.

A Novel Come To Life On The Big Screen

This surprise big screen hit is based on the novel of the same name The Help. It’s set at the dawn of the civil rights movement and three Mississippi women are about to take an extraordinary step into the middle of the movement. 22 year old Skeeter, played by Emma Stone, has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. Her mother won’t be happy until she finds a husband. But Skeeter has different plans. She wants to get her writing career underway.

I must admit I went into this movie somewhat apprehensive. First off it clocks in at well over two hours. That always concerns me. Secondly, in my initial opinion, The Help was nothing more than a second rate movie that grabbed the attention of moviegoers when nothing else worthwhile could be seen on the big screen. This based-on-novel movie released in limited screening did sweep to the top of the box office for a few weeks. With a production budget of just $25 million – to date – it’s pulled in close to $160 million in ticket sales.

So yes, The Help did strike some kind of an appeal for people.

Is All The Hype And Attention Worth It?

The bottom line is this – The Help is an outstanding movie and it is worth the attention it received. But then again, Fox-Searchlight does have a knack of discovering what many might call sleeper movies and turn them into money-makers. Point in case was The Waitress starring Kerri Russell from 2007. While it did not make as much money as The Help and at its widest release was only on 707 theaters, The Waitress still pulled in $20 million dollars. In a nutshell, The Help has a nice down-home feel to it similar to The Waitress. Sometimes it’s just nice to see a movie without the big budget glitter and special effects. In a sea of noisy flicks, The Help provides a nice change of pace from things that go boom.

When it comes to story-line, The Help does maintain focus throughout. However, once again we discover the problem with turning a novel into a movie. Many times they turn into bloated flicks suffering from run-of-the-film clocking in at over two hours. It is hard to take a novel of any substance and keep it to an hour 45 or two hour movie.

But in the same breath as I say this is a long movie, it does not feel like a long movie. 

This is high praise. If you’ve spent any time reading past reviews you know I usually downgrade a movie that is more than two hours. Such is not the case with The Help. There’s enough going on here – including multiple sub-plots that do not muddy the water – to keep your interest throughout. We applaud those involved in the script writing of this movie for keeping what could have been a very complex story line with multiple sub-plots, simple and easy to follow.

Overall we really enjoyed The Help. We were pleasantly surprised that this was not simply a Hollywood-hyped movie in an attempt to make an artsy movie popular. The opposite is actually this case. The Help is an example of a movie that might have otherwise been lost had it not been for the fact that it was released at a time when there was nothing else worthy of note on the big screen. That’s not to say The Help made a box office splash by default. But we are saying this is a movie worth seeing and it’s a movie that truly deserved a broader screen release as well.

It’s a simple – yet complicated movie – with a message about moving forward while eating pie. 

Enjoy the show!
Dr. Rus

About the Author

Dr. Rus has 30+ years experience in the field of communication. He takes this experience, and his passion to encourage others to positively effect their environment, when providing insight and movie reviews.