The Help


Generally favorable reviews - based on 41 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 41
  2. Negative: 2 out of 41

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Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: Anna Smith
    Oct 24, 2011
    A simplistic portrayal of historic race relations boosted by terrific performances from some of the best actresses working in Hollywood today. Sure, it's corny, but it mostly works.
  2. Reviewed by: Mary Pols
    Aug 10, 2011
    For every obvious turn The Help takes, there is Davis, the ideal counterweight.
  3. 60
    It's a tough, beautifully judged performance (Davis) - it gives this too-soft movie a spine.
  4. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Aug 9, 2011
    Save for Ms. Davis's, however, the performances are almost all overly broad, sometimes excruciatingly so, characterized by loud laughs, bugging eyes and pumping limbs.
  5. Reviewed by: Kirk Honeycutt
    Aug 8, 2011
    Taylor does capture the Jim Crow era and its anxieties well, but his characters tend toward the facile and his white heroine is too idealized.
  6. Reviewed by: Ben Sachs
    Aug 11, 2011
    As in many reductive period pieces, there are no real characters here, just archetypes, namely reactionary cretins and sensitive souls who anticipate modern attitudes.
  7. Reviewed by: Kimberley Jones
    Aug 10, 2011
    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.
  8. 50
    Typically, this sort of film is an earnest tear-jerker with moments of levity. Instead, what we have here is a raucous rib-tickler with occasional pauses for a little dramatic relief.
  9. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Aug 9, 2011
    As affectionately as Taylor has brought The Help to the screen, and as gratifying as it is to watch Davis and Spencer bring Aibileen and Minny to palpable, fully rounded life, their narrative, like "The Blind Side" a few years ago, is structured largely around their white female benefactor.
  10. Reviewed by: Meghan Keane
    Aug 9, 2011
    If you can suspend your disbelief that a cute 22 year-old had the power to succeed with civil rights where Martin Luther King and President Kennedy failed, The Help actually has a lot to offer.
  11. Reviewed by: Karina Longworth
    Aug 9, 2011
    We get a fairly typical Hollywood flattening of history, with powerful villains and disenfranchised heroes.
  12. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Aug 11, 2011
    The Help is a high-functioning tearjerker, but the catharsis it offers feels glib and insufficient, a Barbie Band-Aid on the still-raw wound of race relations in America.
  13. Reviewed by: Elizabeth Weitzman
    Aug 10, 2011
    Emma Stone, for example, is no one's idea of an ugly duckling. And though she offers a sincere effort, she never quite settles into the role of Skeeter.
  14. Reviewed by: Keith Uhlich
    Aug 10, 2011
    Spencer, a superb performer mainly known for small character parts, gives a star-making turn as the won't-take-no-guff Minny.
  15. 40
    A chick flick for do-gooders, The Help suffers from a malady common to the discrimination drama: its treatment of inequality is more condescending than the prejudice it aims to remedy.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 382 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 89 out of 113
  2. Negative: 6 out of 113
  1. Aug 11, 2011
    I can honestly say I thought this movie was going to be incredibly sappy and cheesy, and was not much looking forward to seeing it. While itI can honestly say I thought this movie was going to be incredibly sappy and cheesy, and was not much looking forward to seeing it. While it did tidy-up the plot a bit too neatly towards the end, for the most part it felt surprisingly real, at least within the trappings of the film. You should go into the movie thinking that it is a work of fiction based on a real time period in U.S. history, and not look for everything to seem absolutely realistic within the context of that actual time period in U.S. history. The acting was superb across the board. This should be the film that makes Octavia Spencer and Jessica Chastain stars; their characters felt like breakout roles for them. This should be the film that makes hearthrobs out Chris Lowell and Mike Vogel, two stunningly gorgeous men who seem to have real acting chops to match. This film should remind us what cinematic treasures Cissy Spacek and Cicely Tyson are. This film shows that Emma Stone and Bryce Dallas Howard have more impressive acting ranges than one might think based on their past work alone. However, the star of this film is Viola Davis, who is deserving of serious Oscar-buzz. Emma Stone may have top-billing for the film, but Ms. Davis's Aibileen Clark is the heart and soul of the film. You laugh with her, you cry with her, you get angry with her. Its one of those rare performances that breaks your heart and at the same time gives your heart hope. It is one of the best performances I have seen in a film in awhile, and should vault Ms. Davis on to the A-List of actresses working today. Besides the performances, the sets, costumes and all other technical aspects of the film seemed stunningly authentic. As I said before, if there is anything to fault this film for, its that the storylines wrap-up a little too neatly at the end. It also may bother some that the Emma Stone character Skeeter leaves for NYC while Minny and Aibileen stay behind in Mississippi, but at least the filmmakers take the time to address that situation in the film, with Minny and Aibileen urging Skeeter to go against her feelings that she is betraying them by leaving them there. In the end, she leaves and Minny and Aibileen are still in Mississippi, still dealing with the harshness of discrimination. Yes, that frankly sucks, but it is probably fairly realistic to that time period, and there is some hope given to Aibileen and Minny at the film's end, hope for a better life with greater dignity. This film was made to be inspiring and uplifting, and it left me with those feelings in spades. Full Review »
  2. Aug 28, 2011
    "The Help" tells us nothing new. Anybody who didn't know what it had to say has been in a coma for over half a century. But that isn't my"The Help" tells us nothing new. Anybody who didn't know what it had to say has been in a coma for over half a century. But that isn't my problem with it.

    Rather, it is a mawkish, sophomoric, soporifically paced, predictable, grotesquely populated, "young adult" CHIC FLIC. Think of sitting through "Steel Magnolias" with a mixed race cast and "We Shall Overcome" as its incidental music. Twice. Non-stop.

    We need a new rating system, one that advises single adult males that attending particular movies can be injurious to their sanity. Since I was stuck in the middle of a full row, I refrained from disturbing my neighbors and so sat through the entire four and a half hours of it. (It wasn't that long? It sure seemed like it.) My desire, after the first fifteen minutes, was to leave, running to find the nearest sports bar as an antidote. And I hate sports bars.
    Full Review »
  3. Jan 20, 2012
    The Help is well intentioned. That doesn't make it any less racist in its (fictional) storyline based on the south in 1950's America, with theThe Help is well intentioned. That doesn't make it any less racist in its (fictional) storyline based on the south in 1950's America, with the idea that only a white woman can help black women find their voice. The only reason to see this film is the talent put forward by the electrifying Viola Davis and the gutsy performance from Octavia Spencer. Other than that, there's not much here with substance, and the more horrific events of the 1950's seem to be glossed over. Full Review »