Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday Movie Meme - The Help

Today on the Monday Movie Meme, I'm going to talk about a movie that my kids and I saw this week (along with a billion other book lovers) - The Help. 

I read this book right after it was published, in the spring of 2009.  In fact, it had the distinct honor of being my very first download on my Kindle.  I couldn't have made a better choice either.  I later convinced my book club (Books, Babes & Bordeaux) to read it, and it has since become a phenomenon in the literary world.  Perhaps even to the level of a "modern classic".  Even dudes are reading it, evidenced by a very humorous post by Greg at New Dork Review of Books.  The world loves this book.  It isn't a surprise to me that it is an Amy Einhorn book.  I heart A.E.

And the whole world of devotees to the story's essence held their breath, hoping and praying that the movie did the book justice.  We've all heard the reports of Kathryn Stockett's childhood friend, a relatively unproven, directing the movie, ensuring the spirit of the thing was captured.  We've heard the griping and the scandals, as there always are when something is on the brink of greatness, trying to steal the mojo.

My kids have been hearing about the book since I read it over two years ago, so they were hyped to see it, and I was happy to take them.  Yes, I knew there would be some swear words, but at this point, my kids have heard it all and are mature enough to handle it.  I knew they would barely blink an eye, when the real focus would be the racial hatred present in 1960's Mississippi.  In a summer of brainless fluff, I was thrilled that they would see something of substance.   

So how did it stand up?  Well, I have memory issues, and since it has been over two years since I read the book, I can't say for sure that the movie stuck to the book word for word.  But it was close enough to pass muster for me.  The essence, whether it be the relationship between Skeeter and her mother, the danger of the maids' mission, or the spunk of Minny...is all there.

My image of Skeeter was originally one of plainness and frump, so I was unsure of the casting of Emma Stone for the part because Emma is so damned beautiful.  But they frizzed up her hair, and gave her some screw-you moxie that was improper in the South at the time, and she fit the part to a tee.  There isn't a man, or a woman for that matter, who can't love her.  My kids loved her, and thought she portrayed a gutsy young women who would stand up for her values no matter what.  A good role model, I would say.
      

Octavia Spencer (who narrated in the audiobooks) and Viola Davis were perfection.  They portrayed spunky and moral women who had been worn down by their lot in life.  Minny was funny as hell, with her "big awful", and made my kids and I laugh at her antics.  I do believe my daughter was fist-pumping when she learned about the pie.

The supporting actresses, primarily Bryce Dallas Howard and Jessica Chastain playing Hilly and Celia, were larger than life.  Howard, daughter of Ron Howard, is building a career of her own, separate from dad, and in this case, she did her job by making you hate her.  Vengeance will be served, on a plate with whipped cream, bitch!  Celia was hootchie but good-hearted, and you wished you could befriend her and give her a hug. 

Was the movie better than the book?  No, I wouldn't say that.  But it did it justice, and I would encourage each and every one of you to see the movie whether you have read the book or not.  Will there be Oscar nominations?  I've not seen any hint of it, but wouldn't that be cool? 

There were tearful moments, and I think my kids got a solid lesson in racial bigotry and courage that I'm proud that they appreciated. 
 

19 comments:

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Nice to hear what your kids thought about it too!

JoAnn said...

We're planning to see it this week - can't wait!!

Zibilee said...

It sounds like the movie was a good companion to the book, and I am glad for that. I still haven't picked up the book yet, so I am not sure if I am going to make the movie, but I know that when I do (perhaps on Netflix) it will be worth it. Great review, and I am so glad that your kids were excited to see it with you! My kids probably would not be!

Jenny said...

I'm so happy to hear it was so good! I think I'll wait until my mom and sister can go with me to see it (hopefully soon!) since they both read the book. But I plan on dragging husband and dad along too, lol. I loved Greg's post too!! I keep meaning to show it to my husband... need to do that today and see if I can convince him to read it, lol. =) That is really cool that the person who narrated the audiobook is in the movie!

And by the way, your kids sounds awesome! =) The fact that they were looking forward to the movie based on the things you had said about the book.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

I completely agree, I thought the movie was fantastic. I loved the book so I was worried that the movie would miss the mark, but it really was excellent. The casting was spot on too! I loved having a movie that maintained the substance of the book, instead of brushing the rough issues under the table. Wonderful.

Alyce said...

Everyone's been raving about the movie, so I really need to find a way to get down to the theater and see it. :)

bermudaonion said...

I thought the movie stayed true to the book even though changes were made. I thought the casting was great and felt like Octavia Spencer came close to stealing the show - I adored her.

sdk_2010 said...

I havent seen this movie as yet, but might give it a shot soon. Incidentally, I know you have done a few of the monday movie meme picks proper on the bumbles blog, but (and I apologise for this) here is mine that I am shamlessly plugging to all the regulars on Bumbles. I hope you dont mind me having a shot at it for a while? let me know your thoughts. thanks.

http://smurfdok.wordpress.com/2011/08/15/monday-movie-meme-3/

Dale (Smurfin' The Web)

ds said...

Boy, am I behind! Haven't read the book, much less seen the movie. Must correct that. How wonderful that you took your kids along--and that they appreciated the lesson!

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

I really loved it too, and like you, read in 2009.... coaxed my Book Club to do the same and am now listening to it on audio.

Melody said...

OK, so I'm the last person who hasn't read the book yet!! Not sure if I'd watch the movie first though... we shall see! Glad you and your children enjoyed it!

Iliana said...

Can you believe I still haven't read the book? I really want to see the movie but of course want to read the book first. I bet I end up watching the movie. Either way both sound so wonderful! Glad to hear you enjoyed it.

caite said...

I am sure I will like the movie, but honestly, it bothers me so much that they could not have cast Skeeter as she was in the book, tall and skinny and not so pretty, so out of step with the ideal in her southern town at the time.
Guess that is just a dream..

Marce said...

I didn't read it as it isn't my kind of book to read but I did love the movie.

reviewsbylola said...

I loved The Help (both the movie and the book). I had the same issue as you in that I read the book awhile ago and couldn't remember all the details. I went with my book club to see the movie though and one member had recently reread the book. She said the movie stayed pretty true.

Julie P. said...

My book club is going at the end of the month -- can't wait!

farmlanebooks said...

I'm so pleased that the movie did the book justice. I don't get to go to the cinema very often so will be waiting for the DVD release, but I am looking forward to watching it one day.

Elisabeth said...

Just saw The Help yesterday, and like you I read it awhile ago, but I thought they did a great job. The movie touched on all the highlights and depicted the characters perfectly.
I would still recommend reading the book first, but this movie will show those who did not grow up back then, just what life was like for those in the South.

Jenners said...

Everyone who has seen it has raved about it. I'm so glad they did the book proud. I think it is great you took your kids.