The Movie: 8/10
The Help is a very deep movie, which tackles the treatment of African-Americans in the 1960’s in Jackson, Mississippi, during the civil rights movement. Focusing mainly on females, both white and black, the movie tackles the disparity between the wealthy white families, who depended heavily on black maids to not only take care of their houses, but also raising their children. Featuring Emma Stone as Skeeter, a single white woman who has returned from college to find her friends married and continuing the circle of racism in their new families, even though most were brought up by black maids. Skeeter is kind of a rebel, as she decides to take a job instead of look for a husband, and she is one of the only female of her age to do so in her circle of friends.
At the same time her friend Hilly (Bryce Dallas Howard) has decided that her goal is to make sure that the races do not mix, and takes it upon herself, as the self-appointed leader of the group of women, to make sure that her new directive is adopted by everyone, where all white families not only not allow their black maids to use the same bathroom in their own houses, but that they build a separate bathroom just for use by their maids, as she states that “there are diseases” that need to be worried about. It is this kind of thinking that pervades Jackson, and the maids, who do everything they can to help raise these women’s children, as well as prepare food and keep houses clean, are left as the viewer is; totally dejected and downtrodden.
Two of the maids are the main focus of the movie, with Aibileen and Minny (played brilliantly by Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer respectively, and who I will be surprised if both do not garner the attention of the Oscar buzz) decide that they will help Skeeter out in her burgeoning quest to become a New York journalist, as she decides to write down the stories of the black maids in Jackson, and give these silent women a voice. The stories are at times so hard to hear and watch, as is a lot of the movie, as the times were so difficult in Jackson, and around America. The result is a movie that hs a very slow pace, but tells a gripping story, and shows a time period that is a major breaking point in the civil rights movement.
The acting was quite good, even though I was not totally blown away by Emma Stone, who normally is so vivacious and great. I felt as if she was trying too hard to be reserved, and as a result her performance felt stiff. The rest of the cast was exceptional, and really brought this story to life, regardless of the pace of the movie. Overall the Help is a good little movie, that I am sure will be mentioned when Oscar nominations roll around.
- Deleted Scenes – There are a total of 5 deleted scenes, that really are not missed from the movie in my opinion. Director Tate Taylor does introduce each of the scenes.
- Making Of The Help: From Friendship To Film – This is a classic behind the scenes making of the movie. It clocks in at about 23 minutes, and is a decent feature. They discuss the book, and how the movie came about.
- In Their Own Words: A Tribute To The Maids Of Mississippi – This extra has Tate Taylor going back ot the town where the mocie was made, and he talks to some of the women who were involved in the movie.
- Mary J Blige Music Video – Mary J. Blige’s video for “The Living Proof” is also on the disk, with the video featuring scenes form the movie.
Cover Art and Menus: 6/10
I thought the cover for the Help was better than the semi-boring menu. The cover is bright and cheerful, and pretty well sums up the movie in one presentation. The menu is pretty boring, and features scenes from the movie.
Audio & Video: 8/10
There is a noticeable grain that helps give the movie an older feel, that goes with the setting of the movie. The colors are brilliant and solid, as are the blacks. I really thought the video, in its 1080p AVC encode was great. The audio was good also, even though this is not the type of movie that makes big use of bass or surround. It is presented in DTS-HD 5.1 MAster Audio Surround Sound. The audio is dialogue heavy, and therefore center oriented for the most part.
The Help is a great movie that shows the deep South in the 1960’s in all of its glory and all of its gore. The movie is very well done with a solid story and solid acting. At times it can be tough to watch, and that is what makes the movie so compelling. I would recommend the movie for a viewing, and it is sure to garnish some Oscar nods. This is a slow movie though, and the subject matter is intense. Owning the Blu-ray is not necessarily a necessity, but I would say that if you like movies, this is one to see at some point.
Overall Score 7/10