Before I saw The Help, I thought of it exclusively as a movie based on the kind of book that my mom, and my friends’ moms, would and did read. I didn’t know anything about it, besides that it’s a movie that my mom would probably like to watch with me.
I loved The Help, as it turns out. It mixes three of my favorite topics: civil rights, journalism, and fierce fashion. There are plenty of great performances by actresses Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jessica Chastain, and Octavia Spencer.
The Help centers on an ensemble of characters, all related in someway or another. There’s Skeeter (Stone), a young feminist journalist, her old friend Hilly (Howard), a pretty racist, politically involved housewife, Celia (Chastain), an estranged friend, their circle of uppity housewife friends, and all of their “help,” or maids, like Aibileen (Davis) and Minny (Spencer).
To choose the film’s main character is difficult, but it’s basically presented through two points of view: that of Skeeter and that of Aibileen. Skeeter’s mother (Allison Janney) has cancer, and Skeeter has just returned from college in the 1960’s. Aibileen is the maid of one of Skeeter’s friends, Elizabeth (Ahna O’Reilly).
The Help is full of relatable characters and scenarios. Honestly – the character of Miss Hilly is Regina George; she’s a queen bee, easily recognized in everyone’s life. And almost every girl living in the 21st century understands the plight of Skeeter, wanting to pursue her career instead of a husband.
The film also characterizes Aibileen and Minny very clearly and respectfully, making them the most routed for characters. The Help is the kind of movie that, given its subject matter, could be really hard to watch, but it isn’t. It’s just disturbing enough to get you on the edge of your seat.
All of the stories intertwine in this film, and although it’s quite long, it’s very easy to sit through. There are enough colorful characters and storylines to distract you from getting bored, and the ending is incredibly satisfying and worth the wait. It’s even pretty funny, at least much funnier than expected, thanks to Spencer.
The improved visuals make the fierce fashion and cinematography of The Help that much more bright and stunning on Blu-Ray, and even though it seems atypical for people to exclaim, “Gotta love the audio in The Help!”, the smooth Blu-Ray audio makes the film that much more complete. And yes, Emma Stone is even more crush-worthy in high definition.
The special features on The Help Blu-ray are few:
- Deleted Scenes - There are five deleted scenes from the film that you can watch if you have the Blu-ray, and they run for a combined 9 minutes. Personally – I think 146 minutes of The Help was already enough.
- Making Of The Help: From Friendship To Film - This feature is a summary of how the novel was adapted to film, and it’s about 20 minutes long. The director and most of the main cast are interviewed. While not particularly exciting, it does add some more backstory to particularly intense fans of the film.
- In Their Own Words: A Tribute To The Maids Of Mississippi - This is probably the most captivating feature, specifically because it’s so unique. The video was directed by Octavia Spencer and director Tate Taylor, and it honors some real-life Mississippi maids.
- Mary J. Blige’s “The Living Proof” Music Video - Fans of Mary J. Blige, rejoice! In case you don’t have access to Youtube, you can watch the music video for “The Living Proof,” which is the song that runs during the credits.
I know it seems like The Help is something that you would watch with your mom on a Sunday afternoon at home, but it’s a must-see. If for no other reason, go to theater to rank each of Stone’s fabulous outfits. The Help is one of those movies that goes past the 120-minute mark, but it’s entertaining the entire time.