Friday, August 12, 2011

The Help

A manipulative and convoluted terrible rip of 'Fried Green Tomatoes.' Made for fans of women-centric manipulative films and lovers of the book.

Rated PG-13

for thematic material.

The Help

Honestly, I hate reading books. Unlike movies, books take forever to get where they are going and are far too time-consuming. Give me an abridged and adapted film version and I’ll be perfectly happy – if the adaptation is right. When an adaptation goes wrong, it can absolutely kill a film. Want some examples? See Watchmen, The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons.

Of course, I have not read The Help – but with the film’s jam-packed and convoluted adaptation, I felt like I have. With a 137-minute runtime, The Help feels like it crams in absolutely every insignificant character and storyline just to please the fans. The result is a slow, long, heartless film chock full of forced manipulative drama, another bad adaptation.

The Help is an emsemble piece that follows a bunch of women in Jackson, Mississippi during the rise of the civil rights movement. Emma Stone (Crazy, Stupid, Love.) plays Eugenia, the catalyst of the story. When Eugenia returns to Jackson after graduating college, she wants to become a writer. Upon learning that her parents fired the family’s black maid while she was away at school, she decides to find a segragated black nanny to interview for a tell-all book that describes how terrible it is to work for racist white families. At the time, it was considered an illegal act, so Eugenia must pressure a friend’s maid Aibileen (Viola Davis, Doubt) to open up and speak her mind.

If you’re looking to watch a female-driven period piece about equal rights and women empowerment, do yourself a favor and rent/revisit Fried Green Tomatoes. The author of The Help must have read/seen Fried Green Tomatoes many times, because The Help is nothing more than a heartless manipulative rip-off of it. There’s the wild tomboy girl who acts against the grain. There’s the uptight play-it-by-the-book female. There’s the abusive husband. Someone is passionate about cooking. There’s even an oversized “secret’s in the sauce” plot.

If The Help is successful, it will only be because of the fans of the book racing out to see it over and over again. They are sure to love it because it crams in everything from the book (so I’m assuming). Anyone who has not read the book will be stuck watching a charm-less shallow film that lacks heart, honestly and emotional involvement. The Help is far too forced to be effective, despite Stone, Davis and fellow co-stars Bryce Dallas Howard (The Village) and Jessica Chastain (The Tree of Life) giving stellar performances.

Photo credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

2 out of 5

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