The Help

The Help Image
Metascore
62

Generally favorable reviews - based on 41 Critics What's this?

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7.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 379 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: Mississippi during the 1960s: Skeeter, a southern society girl, returns from college determined to become a writer, but turns her friends' lives--and a small Mississippi town--upside down when she decides to interview the black women who have spent their lives taking care of prominentMississippi during the 1960s: Skeeter, a southern society girl, returns from college determined to become a writer, but turns her friends' lives--and a small Mississippi town--upside down when she decides to interview the black women who have spent their lives taking care of prominent southern families. Aibileen, Skeeter's best friend's housekeeper, is the first to open up—to the dismay of her friends in the tight-knit black community. Despite Skeeter's life-long friendships hanging in the balance, she and Aibileen continue their collaboration and soon more women come forward to tell their stories—and as it turns out, they have a lot to say. Along the way, unlikely friendships are forged and a new sisterhood emerges, but not before everyone in town has a thing or two to say themselves when they become unwittingly—and unwillingly—caught up in the changing times. (Walt Disney Pictures)

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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 41
  2. Negative: 2 out of 41
  1. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Aug 9, 2011
    100
    The Help isn't intended to be so much a movie about the ugliness of the era than an optimistic tale of what can spring from that kind of ugliness, about the ability of people to love one another even when they're surrounded by hatred. And on that level, The Help succeeds wonderfully, a warm and sweet song of hope.
  2. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Aug 9, 2011
    80
    The Help definitely worked on me as a consummate tear-jerker with a terrific cast, and it's pretty much the summer's only decent Hollywood drama.
  3. Reviewed by: Connie Ogle
    Aug 10, 2011
    75
    The Help will make you laugh, yes, but it can also break your heart. In the dog days of August moviegoing, that's a powerful recommendation.
  4. Reviewed by: Ella Taylor
    Aug 12, 2011
    65
    Big hair, fine period frocks and interior design lend The Help a pleasingly retro look. Yet for someone who grew up in Mississippi, the director has little sense of place.
  5. Reviewed by: Mary Pols
    Aug 10, 2011
    60
    For every obvious turn The Help takes, there is Davis, the ideal counterweight.
  6. Reviewed by: Kimberley Jones
    Aug 10, 2011
    50
    The Help may be more interested in the moral at the end of the story than the story itself, but what saves the film from its meticulous one-dimensionality is that nuanced, deeply moving cast.
  7. Reviewed by: Andrew Schenker
    Aug 9, 2011
    25
    High school creative-writing-class ironies of all kinds abound in The Help.

See all 41 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 89 out of 112
  2. Negative: 6 out of 112
  1. Aug 27, 2011
    10
    This is so far the best movie of the year. This film has the best cast of any film since "Inception". Viola Davis, of course, stands out asThis is so far the best movie of the year. This film has the best cast of any film since "Inception". Viola Davis, of course, stands out as the best, but so does her best friend, Minnie, played by Octavia Spencer. While people focus on these two, there are many others who are ignored. Allison Janney delivers her trademark comedic but stern performance, Cicely Tyson is great but short, Jessica Chastain gives the best dumb blonde ever, and Bryce Dallas Howard is wicked and shocking. But Emma Stone gives the second best performance of the movie, who is like a pre-tabloid Lindsay Lohan mixed with Julia Roberts. Her wits, charm, and dialogue are what makes her a beacon in a dark movie. Besides the cast, the writing, art direction, cinematography, costumes, and makeup are highlights. I also loved the ending song, which should be nominated for an Oscar. Possibly the best drama film I've seen. Period. Expand
  2. Nov 12, 2012
    10
    [The Help] is, in some ways, crude and obvious, but it opens up a broad new swath of experience on the screen, and parts of it are so moving[The Help] is, in some ways, crude and obvious, but it opens up a broad new swath of experience on the screen, and parts of it are so moving and well acted that any objections to what's second-rate seem to matter less as the movie goes on. Expand
  3. Dec 21, 2012
    10
    I like it cause Emma is in it. Haha :D But I think its a great movie. Aight? So.. Yeah.I like it cause Emma is in it. Haha :D But I think its a great movie. Aight? So.. Yeah.

    A great movie. A must watch. I really need to watch this. ugh ^^
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  4. Aug 29, 2011
    9
    I enjoyed this movie although I never read the book I still went to go see it and I thought this movie was good it showed that emma stone canI enjoyed this movie although I never read the book I still went to go see it and I thought this movie was good it showed that emma stone can other movies that are not comedy over all it was great movie. Expand
  5. Jan 29, 2012
    8
    This four Oscar-nominated film has finally set ashore here in the theater and is destined to be a gratifying crowd-pleaser. It is aThis four Oscar-nominated film has finally set ashore here in the theater and is destined to be a gratifying crowd-pleaser. It is a resourceful reference to the color discrimination period almost 50 years ago in USA. The film is able to find its resonance elsewhere in the world painlessly, even for a Chinese like myself, discrimination is commonplace among human societies, and we can all empathize with the characters and enjoy the theatrical conflict with some well-infilled satisfaction after a lengthy 150 minutes. From director/writer Tate Taylor (who has a supporting role in another Oscar-favorite WINTER'S BONE 2010), THE HELP interweaves a lively portrait of the bitterness and felicity of the lives of black helps, through a young white girl's intervention to harness their stories as the source materials for her book. Maybe one can argue that all the twist-and-turn is too hoary for the audience in the 21st century, but propped by an all-out effort from a superb cast, the film miraculously enjoyable and the epiphany comes with a perfect tempo, arguably a supporting role, Viola Davis demos a tenacious mojo on screen and her emotional flare-up is wondrous to watch, Octavia, Bryce, Jessica are among the elites of the nearly all-female supporting groups (Viola and Octavia is my current win in the leading and supporting actress respectively), and old hands like Allison, Sissy, Cicely and Mary also showcase their meticulous scene-stealer dexterity. All these accompaniments has induced that Emma Stoneâ Expand
  6. Nov 7, 2011
    7
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. What happens in Mississippi, stays in Mississippi. For the next few weeks, as part of their missing persons investigation involving three civil rights workers, last seen registering black people to vote, Agent Rupert Anderson knows that some tough sledding is in store for he and his younger, somewhat green partner, so to lighten the mood, he sings a KKK rally song, which inspires Agent Alan Ward to complain that he "can do without the cabaret," because the Kennedy boy just doesn't "share [his] sense of humor." In kind, the former redneck sheriff responds, "Sometimes that's all you have left." Later in Alan Parker's "Mississippi Burning", after the church bombings and lynching, you know, your garden variety Klan mischief, Ward asks, "What's wrong with these people?" clearly aghast at the unrelenting and pervasive ugliness of your typical segregated town. Now he understands that the old man never meant to be ha-ha funny. In record time, he reaches the same point of resignation which inspired Rupert to drive past the state limits, so many years ago. "These people crawled out of the sewer Mr. Ward, maybe the gutter is where we should be," yells Anderson, when he tries to convince the principled straight arrow FBI man that the time for diplomacy is over. Being black, Minnie knows the feeling first-hand, so the maid gets down and dirty, just like her enemies, when she decides to fight the power. "The Help", in addition to being lambasted by critics for telling a black story from a white perspective(the same kneejerk reaction that greeted "Mississippi Burning", even though the 1988 film largely transcended its racially-condescending narrative trappings, unlike other movies of its ilk, such as "Ghosts of Mississippi" and "The Long Walk Home"), the detractors also balk at its comedic moments. True enough, Jim Crow is nothing to laugh about, but, to reiterate Anderson's sentiment, "sometimes that's all you have left," therefore the maids laugh so as not to cry, the same defense mechanism which the filmmaker, and also, the audience uses to combat the horrors of institutionalized racism. So while the maids conspire in the kitchen against their white employers by laughing at Hilly's practice of "puttin' pencil marks on the toilet paper," it's only because Minnie chooses to put on a brave face for her best friend Aibileen. Like Agent Anderson, they laugh out of resignation. In the face of such abject humiliation, what other choice does the maid have? If she cries about it, then Hilly Holbrook, the housewife-turned-reactionary social activist who drums up neighborhood support for separate toilets, comes out the victor in the whole "coloreds only" bathroom dialogue. Worse still, were Minnie to get mad about the employer-enforced ban on having access to the indoor facilities, she'd probably end up in prison, just like Sofia in "The Color Purple", when the outspoken "Negro" insults the mayor's wife, and then for good measure, knocks out her husband. A person of color simply can't attack racism in that fashion. Agent Anderson can. because he's white, and in the barber shop scene from the Parker film, he does, purposely nicking Clinton with a straight-edge razor, before shoving the deputy's face against the mirror, and through gritted teeth, says, "You got a stupid smile, you know that, pal?" which is to say that the sheriff's right-hand man has a s*it-eating grin. Since Minnie's arsenal for revenge precludes any sort of physical contact with her employer(conversely, the FBI agent was just getting warmed up; he ends up tossing Clinton around the shop like a ragdoll), not without some serious repercussions, so "The Help" employs the maid with the next-best available weapon: comedy, in order to settle an old score, while at the same time, maintaining her status as a free woman. Given that the social context is segregated Mississippi, and not swinging London(the setting for "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me"), where eating s*it has a chance of being funny, the chocolate pie which Minnie laces with her own feces, in a sense, acts as a performative violence, and not the puerile hijinks that the film's critics purport it to be. This is not a gross-out comedy, after all; it's a gross-out drama, in which the grotesquerie masterminded by the subjugated black female can't begin to match the grotesquerie of the racist milieu that she is powerless to overcome. To be fair, the critics have a legitimate gripe, in regard to the writer as being another example of the trope familiar to this genre: the white savior who is going to save black mankind, but unlike "To Kill a Mockingbird", where the film is told through Scout's eyes, the narrative belongs, not to Skeeter, but to Aibileen. "The Help" ends with the suggestion that the maid will write a book of her own. "The Invisible Woman", perhaps, an answer to the 1952 National Book Award-winning novel by Ralph Ellison. Expand
  7. Nov 1, 2011
    0
    this movie's too hard to understand..... i think that a movie shoud have Understandable Plot,Clear Motive, and a movie should also bethis movie's too hard to understand..... i think that a movie shoud have Understandable Plot,Clear Motive, and a movie should also be entertaining.i think this movie looked more likely a documentary than a movie. Expand

See all 112 User Reviews

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