Saturday, December 10, 2011
Screen Gem Saturdays: The Help
"The Help" was a recent blockbuster hit movie that was based on a book by Kathryn Stockett of the same name. I saw the movie before I read the book, and was glad that I did so in that order. I very much enjoyed the movie, but did feel that it suffered slightly from some stereotypical characters. Am I referring to the maids from the title of both works? No...I am referring to the stereotypical treatment of the caucasian ladies that have hired them. Instead of the multi-dimensional characters that Stockett's book shares with the readers, the movie flattens and dumbs them down for the audience, playing their bigotry for laughs. I'm not quite sure why Hollywood does this...well, wait...I probably do. I would guess that it boils down to box office and keeping things less controversial. Surely people couldn't have been this stupid in how they treated other humans? Well, they were...and some still are. Sadly, this is a genuine photo from the 1950's in New Orleans:
By adding the comic element, the film downplays the cruelty, making it more palatable for the masses.
Despite the dumbing-down, the movie does still have some of the grit and teeth that made me love Stockett's book so much more, such as the scene where Aibileen listens to the ladies talk about separate bathrooms for "The Help."
Tons of kudos to the casting director for this film; they are matches made in heaven. Viola Davis, so powerful in her Oscar-winning turn in "Doubt" is just as magnetic as Aibileen Clark, the moral center of this movie. Octavia Spencer walks away with the movie; the role of the sassy Minny Jackson was actually written for her. Stockett has admitted that she had Octavia in mind when she put pen to paper.
The friendship between Minny & Aibileen is wonderful to watch; genuine to the core, it's a treat to watch their unconditional support of each other.
One of the highlights of both treatments for me was the relationship that develops between Minny & Celia, the blond southern bombshell that hires her (played by Jessica Chastain).
Two great cameos by veteran actresses Cicely Tyson & Sissy Spacek.
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Looking to do some good? FEEDING AMERICA, the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief charity, is celebrating the DVD/Blu-ray release of "The Help" with a national donation campaign that ends tomorrow (Sunday) December 11 to generate food and funds to help feed the 1 in 6 people in the United States who do not have enough to eat.
“The economic downturn really hurt American families,” said Feeding America Director of Media Relations Ross Fraser. “As a nation, we need to come together to help our neighbors who are struggling to make ends meet. The collaboration between FEEDING AMERICA and the producers of THE HELP is a great example of how we can come together to make a difference.”
To help put food in the hands of as many people/families in need this holiday season, FEEDING America and THE HELP are asking consumers to please help contribute in one of the following ways.
DONATE ONLINE - Every $1.00 donated can help FEEDING AMERICA provide meals eight meals for people in need. People who make online donations at www.feedingamerica.org/thehelp before December 11 will receive a limited-time $5.00 off coupon toward the purchase of the film THE HELP on Blu-ray or DVD. Touchstone Pictures, the affiliate of The Walt Disney Company that distributed THE HELP, will provide a matching donation of up to $10,000, with a goal of providing more than 200,000 meals to families at risk of hunger.
GET SOCIAL – Throughout the month of December, Facebook and Twitter fans of THE HELP are encouraged to take action in their local communities. THE HELP Facebook and Twitter accounts will post details about how people can get involved and ask fans to provide feedback and talk about their local community efforts/contributions.
DROP OFF FOOD - FEEDING America and THE HELP themed food donation boxes will be positioned at local community events in Manhattan, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Dallas and Atlanta throughout December. Food collected will be distributed by the local Feeding America food bank. Please consider donating the most requested foods such as cereal, pasta, rice, beans, canned fruits and vegetables, soups, 100% juices, peanut butter, canned tuna, chicken or turkey.
Stay connected with the FEEDING America and THE HELP; “Like” the Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/thehelpmovie or follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/helpmovie