Yes, I’m Talking About The Help Too

First of all, before I get all wound up, you gotta see this. Make sure you watch 1:55 as well.

I hope someone sends that to YouTube-loving Ellen DeGeneres and she gets them on the show. (Does anyone else worry about things that absolutely have nothing to do with you? If you have a problem you’d like me to obsess over, just shoot me an email…)

So, you need to go see The Help. If you haven’t read it, do that. But go see it Like this week. If you don’t see it in the theater, you are going to miss a cool part of the movie experience.There is some language in the movie, but honestly, aside from one scene early on, that didn’t bother me. I would not let that stop me from watching it. I would want my teenage students to see this.

Thoughts on this movie:

a. Lived up to the hype. Every time someone told me the movie was wonderful, I was just like, “Earmuffs! Quit talking! Nahnahnah can’t hear you!” Because when people build a movie up, then…it never lives up to it. I was not disappointed.
b. Wonderful book adaptation. Good job, screenwriter and Hollywood.
c. Beautiful costumes
d. Viola Davis. If that woman doesn’t win an Academy Award, I will eat a whole pint of Ben and Jerry’s in a bitter rage. (And this is different from most days because…?)  Viola first caught my attention in the movie Doubt, starring Meryl Streep. She just becomes the character. There is no point at which Viola stops and the character starts. They are one and the same. And in both films, Viola snot cries. There is little that grosses me out, but snot will do it every time. But when I saw her totally raw and crying in Doubt, snot abounding, I just sat in that theater and thought, “Wow. Now that’s going for it.” She is the most authentic thing to hit Hollywood since Ms. Meryl Streep, another favorite who IS the character. They could not have cast a better Aibileen.
e. Octavia Spencer, who played Minnie. Perfection. I loved Celia and Minnie’s friendship with her.
f. I am still not totally sold on Emma Stone as Skeeter, but she is a great actress.
g. Go see this in the theater. Some movies are more than a movie, but a bonding experience. Harry Potter 7, for example. The Help. That theater was packed with folks who had read that book, recommended that book, re-read that book, or lived that book. That gives the room a vibe that is just something else. We all oohed and ahhed over the same moments. Clapped when the credits rolled. And when the movie was over, folks lingered in the halls in groups, still talking about the movie, unwilling to let it go just yet.
h. Lines that are so well written, you just ache with the truth of them and the giftedness of the author. Like when Aibileen holds her young charge’s white cheeks, looks into her blue eyes and says, “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”
i. There are so many powerful lines and images, I could hardly stand it. In fact, I pretty much bawled the whole way through the movie. When the film was over, my friends looked at me like, “Who are you?”  I was just that wrapped up in it. Wrapped up in the story, in how it spoke to me personally, and in pride for an author I have never/will never meet, who gets to see her story come to life. And Hollywood didn’t screw it up. I’m so proud for her.
j. Funny. The movie is not just heavy stuff. Would I see it if it were? Nah. There are lots of funny moments, and both the book/movie balance this so well.
k. God is in this movie. (And Kirk Cameron is not.) Sometimes it’s very literal, such as a church scene, scriptural references, mentions of God. But even if His name had not been stated, He was in those words, those lines. And this was a movie about words. There were certain scenes where chills broke out on my arms. Scenes where I had to hold back from throwing up my hands and shouting glory. Author Natalie Lloyd said a woman in her theater did exactly that. It’s that real. I’m so proud of the book and movie for the spiritual integrity in the projects. Nothing spiritually heavy in that book. It was so natural. That’s a talent and a beautiful balance with a profound effect and return.
l. So much heart. Natalie Lloyd brought up this point. We had a 400 page email conversation over the movie, and she was so right. If there is no heart, you can’t sell your joke. Or your imagery. Or your theme of courage. Or your characters. Because you is kind. You is smart. And you is important.

There is also some controversy over the film. While there is already Oscar talk for Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer, it’s ticking some folks off. You can read about that HERE. I love the comment that says:  “I hate it when I hear people saying that the women in this movie are playing maids. They’re not. They’re playing amazing women who just happen to work as maids.”

There are 100 other reasons I loved this book. But just go. Go see it.
And also go to She Reads. Where you can win some The Help swag.

If you saw the movie, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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19 comments

19 Comments so far

  1. Erin McFarland August 15th, 2011 7:00 pm

    Oh wow! I loved the book but am always skeptical about big screen adapts too. But your list sold me on it…my plans for Friday night are secured. Points H and I are gold.

  2. Mississippi Mama August 15th, 2011 7:36 pm

    Loved the book, loved the movie. Both are so excellent. The Help is an instant Southern classic, like Steel Magnolias, The Color Purple, or Fried Green Tomatoes.

    The writing and directing are so good because they were both done by Tate Taylor, Kathryn Stockett’s childhood best friend and fellow native Jacksonian. He knows the city, state, and story as well as she does, so he could only have done a superior job.

    I live in Jackson and loved seeing very familiar places, like Brent’s drugs and the gas station. The homes and interiors were shot in the Delta, in Greenwood. It’s supposed to be the Belhaven neighborhood, but there are no homes that large in Belhaven!

    I enjoyed Viola Davis’ performance, but she has gone on a rude, ignorant, and frankly racist tirade about Mississippi, so I can barely even stomach the sight of her. I managed to turn off those feelings while watching the film, but yeah. I’m not a fan. Octavia Spencer, on the other hand, is a class act. She runs the book’s Facebook page and is nothing but a sweetheart.

    I’m anxious to see the film again and to buy the DVD. And I want to read the book in audio form, too. Several different women read the parts, and Octavia reads Minnie.

  3. Kristin August 15th, 2011 7:40 pm

    Honestly, I had been avoiding this book…I tend to do that with super-popular books. I think it’s because of what you said: they’re hyped up so much that they rarely live up to it.

    But I’ve heard so much good about it, that I just might have to read it. Plus, Target has it on sale for $10 this week. =)

    ~Kristin

  4. Mary August 15th, 2011 8:21 pm

    You had me at The Help — you reeled me in with Swag.
    I LOVED this movie and it’s RARE that I ever like a Hollywood adaptation of a book — rare as hen’s teeth (whatever that means… do hen’s have teeth? I don’t know).
    Want to go see it again — just to soak it in even more. Loved the HEART of this story. I grew up in Birmingham, AL in the 70s, the era following this one. I remember the racial strife, the segregation, busing — I remember.
    incredible book / great movie.

  5. Jenny B Jones August 15th, 2011 8:25 pm

    Mary, I want to see the movie again too. I wish I’d had a pen and paper with me to write down all the good stuff. My head was about to explode. Of course this phenom of not being able to contain info is nothing new.

    Kristin, read the book. Read the book. It’s beautifully written and I don’t like literary fiction on the whole. And yes! Target has the paperback for 10 bucks! Great deal.

    Miss Mama, I hate to hear that about Viola Davis. I read in the Parade Sunday mag thingie that the author knew or had met Octavia and based Minnie on her surly (that day) personality? (Isn’t octavia a great name?)

    Erin, I think you’ll like it a lot. Bring Kleenex.

  6. Jess August 15th, 2011 9:08 pm

    I am SO EXCITED to go see this movie!!! My book club girls (12 of us) are all going together and dressing up too!!! I was so touched by this book and can not wait for the movie. And can I say that I wasn’t going to read the book until you demanded it on your blog!;)

  7. Amy August 15th, 2011 10:48 pm

    So…I read the book and LOVED IT! (Thanks to Jenny for giving me the kick in the butt!)

    And then I saw the movie and…didn’t love it.

    I do, however, love the military’s rendition of “Rollin’ in the Deep.”

  8. Went to see the movie yesterday with my mother and my two teenage daughters. Three generations of Southern women. The past, the present and the future all rolled into one movie theater.

    This movie made us all cry—for different reasons, from different perspectives. My mother and I both had our own Aibileen’s in our lives as children. We both so identified with this experience.

    The movie was real—not the trumped up version the media likes to portray us Southerners (white and black) as, but the real, complex, complicated mixture that makes the interwoven relationships between white and black Southerners fascinating and not easily understood by those who didn’t grow up here. Kathryn Stockett is one of us and she got it. Most do not.

    This is the South I remember as a child. Elements of this South my daughters still know. I laughed, I cried. I applaud Kathryn’s courage and honesty. This had better win some awards.

  9. Ruth August 16th, 2011 10:03 am

    I need to read this book AND see the film! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. And that “Rolling in the Deep” cover is fantastic!

  10. HopefulLeigh August 16th, 2011 10:26 am

    I visited a friend in Alabama over the weekend and we saw it together. I read the book well over a year ago and felt the movie did it justice, for the most part. I was surprised by how emotional I was, crying through much of the movie. The richness of the relationships, the risks that Aibelene and Minnie took in speaking, the disparity between the blacks and whites, the knowledge that as much has changed, we still have so far to go. I understand the criticism that this is another White Person Leading the Blacks movie/book but I hope it transcends that. It seemed to me that no matter what their original motivation, all the characters changed and grew because of their decision to share their stories.

  11. Alli August 16th, 2011 1:14 pm

    I also need to read the book and watch the movie. There’s a lot of bad movies out there and it seems like this one is an exception.

  12. bookwyrm14 August 16th, 2011 4:20 pm

    WHY HAVEN’T YOU POSTED FOR SO LONG JENNY?????

    And my mom saw The Help and she said that the actors were great but the plot not so much. Although she was also very pleased about the spiritual references so often lacking in Hollywood. (That’s what she said. lol)

  13. Allie Smith August 16th, 2011 7:21 pm

    Every once in a while i read a book that becomes a part of me.A part of my identity as a person.This book is.It was so real when I read it,I could hear them.Feal their fear and their determination.The book spoke to my soul,and I can’t wait to see the movie!

  14. Hannah August 17th, 2011 1:36 am

    Oh I’m SO glad to hear that its REALLY good! I was hoping to watch it with my family, and now I have a feeling that I’ll be bawling during the whole movie too xD I’m quite the movie cryer

  15. ashley August 17th, 2011 9:58 am

    i just saw it last night. bawled. loved it so much i thought it about it all night in my sleep and on the way to work this morning. it’s truly amazing.

  16. Nicole August 17th, 2011 6:21 pm

    Hi I just wanted to add that I saw on MSN that the girl singing Adele was asked to be on The Voice. The story can be found here:
    http://specials.msn.com/A-List/TV/Carson-Daly-gets-soldier-on-The-Voice.aspx?cp-documentid=30042261
    It’s not Ellen, but it’s still pretty cool!

  17. Liz Johnson August 19th, 2011 5:04 pm

    So I haven’t quite gotten around to reading the book yet, but I ADORED the movie. It’s everything you said it is and more! :) Great review, Jenny. :) I just could not stop the tears at the end. Sweet Katie Bond thought I’d lost my marbles (don’t worry, I haven’t had those in ages), but I couldn’t keep it together. And now I’m dying to read the book. I love when a movie does that. Makes you long to read the whole story.

    Celia was my favorite character. Her friendship with Minnie made me want to be a better friend. I just can’t recommend it enough. Love when a book or movie does that to me!

    And it has me hoping that the same writer/director would take on the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. That’s a movie I’d love to see!

  18. Capillya August 25th, 2011 11:34 am

    I haven’t read The Help! I haven’t seen The Movie! *runs and hides and hopes to remedy this soon*

  19. karmal December 26th, 2011 5:19 am

    I’m a 60 year old southern guy whose early life included “help” both inside and outside our home. I had a “mammy” from the age of 3 months to 2 years and I still remember her voice, although I can’t remember her face.

    My wife and I never go out to watch movies and instead rent them on pay per view, so I’m late to the dance on this one. It’s Christmas night tonight and my wife and I decided to watch “The Help” and had only a few expectations for how good or bad it was supposed to be. I’m really glad we decided to watch it because it was one of the most powerful, moving, personal experiences for me.

    Toward the end of the movie, when Aibileen comforts Mae Mobley (h. above), I just sort of lost it. I broke down and cried like a little girl. (I’d already left the room several times to get more napkins to wipe my nose and eyes, but this time was different.) After I’d sort of “gushed and sobbed” for a minute or two my wife turned toward me and said, “Who are you?” But even then, I still couldn’t quit crying. Later, after the movie was over and I began to feel a little self conscious about my emotional breakdown, I said, “It’s probably just the new medicine I’m on now..or maybe it’s the economy”, and laughed. But let me tell you, it was neither of those things. Whatever it was that brought that up and moved that out of me, and removed my control to stop it, was powerful stuff. I know that. Believe me,I’m not a sissy. Really. (I’m so thankful we weren’t in a theatre.)

    There’s some background to what was so moving in this movie for me. I have a deep, a very, very deep sadness that I’ve been harboring for many years about the ugliness of what I witnessed as a youth in the south concerning blacks. It’s not even that I was a tacit part of it, or ever acted in that way toward black people, but I do remember it, and just the memory makes me hurt inside sometimes. This movie brought that all up and to the surface. It was time, I guess.

    I’m personally sorry for the injustice and humiliation and unfairness and hurt and so many other things that happened and that no words will ever be able to satisfactorily paint, no matter how great those words are, or how great a movie is. But this movie certainly serves that purpose and does so elegantly. I abhor injustice everywhere I see it because of my experience with it as a child and young person. I suppose this is how we grow as people both individually and collectively, even as a nation. We gotta get to the place where our bad actions, looking back at them, make us hurt inside.

    This movie is special. Watch it if you haven’t.

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