Wow...Two straight movies that I really really liked. What's the world coming to? And the common thread in both movies was Emma Stone. First in "Crazy Stupid Love" and now in "The Help"
"The Help" is the film adaptation of the acclaimed book by Kathryn Stockett and I'm told by those that read the book that the movie is pretty much carbon copy. See also Steve Leventhal's review of the book for additional plot details.
This is a movie that takes place in the early 60's in Jackson, Mississippi, which was known at that time for being fairly racist. The story revolves around a group of black maids employed in white households and are underpaid, overworked, treated terribly. One glaring example from the movie is being forced to use a separate, exterior bathroom.
Then along comes a white girl who grew up in Jackson but who has come back from college and aspires to be both a journalist and a novelist. Stone plays this character and there's something about her that you just can't help but like. She has a sweet face and a bubbly personality and so far she's 2 for 2 in my book.
This is a predominantly female cast and the vast array of actresses are all fantastic. Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer play the two lead maid roles and both will be nominated come Academy Award time. They were both outstanding. Also incredibly good are Bryce Dallas Howard (yes, that's Opie's daughter,) as a real bitchy racist socialite and Allison Janney as Emma Stone's mother. And I can't forget Jessica Chastain who plays a white woman who has no racist bones in her body...and what a body it is.
This movie will definitely tug at your heart strings and if it doesn't then you don't have a pulse. It's also funny, sad and poignant so get ready for a roller coaster of emotions.
Speaking of funny, I think as I look back at all the flicks that I have seen this summer the two that have been my favorites have basically been an all female cast. First "Bridesmaids" and now "The Help." No chauvinism here. Both were great even though they couldn't have been any different.
The only drawback to "The Help" was the length (2 and a half hours). I'll say this until I'm blue in the face. Movies should not go that long. My bladder really gets a workout but even with that I loved this movie (as I thought I would) and give it a grand slam - four stars!