Friday, August 19, 2011

Monkey at the Movies: The Help

One of my husband's favorite things to do is go to the movies. We try to go at least once a month, and it's usually on Sunday mornings (at some AMC Theaters, it's only $6 before noon). So I figured maybe I'd post an occasional review here, since I already did one (Horrible Bosses). Not that my opinion counts for much, but it might help you decide what flick you want to see on your next date night... As long as you don't mind it coming a bit late in the game... we're not crazy about crowded theaters, so we generally don't see movies until at least a week or two after the release date.

When I thought of having this blog's movie review post titles begin with "Monkey at the Movies:", I googled that phrase. There were really only a couple blogs already using it, which later combined into one (they were both by the same guy), and it doesn't appear to be currently active. So with a respectful nod to GeekMonkey (great confused minds think alike), I'm running with it.

Last night we saw The Help. I'd been meaning to read the book since I designed the invitation for my mom's book club luncheon when they read it a year and a half ago. I could NOT bring myself to see the movie until I read the book, so I bought it last week and finished it over the weekend. It's a wonderful book! I knew I was going to enjoy it when after only about 30 pages in, I had already laughed out loud four or five times.

The movie is also wonderful. I have to say, they took a lot of liberties with the book. (I'm sure they had to modify things to keep it within a 2-hour-or-so timeframe.) There are some pretty major differences in some details and plot lines, but the gist of the story remains intact. Emma Stone wowed me again with another engaging performance in her role as Skeeter (she was great in Crazy Stupid Love, not reviewed here but highly recommended). And who knew sweet little Ronny Howard's daughter (Bryce Dallas Howard as Hilly) could be so convincing as a completely evil bitch?? Viola Davis portrayed a gentle strength and courage as Aibileen. Paired with Octavia Spencer's brash and veracious Minnie, it's a delicious combo. The movie is studded with other actors who are always fun to watch... Sissy Spacek gives Missus Walters a lighthearted flair. Allison Janney as Charlotte Phelan imbues her character with a stubborn toughness that I didn't infer from the book. I was disappointed in Cicely Tyson's portrayal of Constantine... maybe it's just me, but Ms. Tyson seems to play the same character the same way in every film I've seen her in over the past couple decades. From the book, I envisioned a less feeble, more self-assured Constantine.

Overall, the movie works. At 2 hours 17 minutes, it's a bit long, but it keeps moving so it never "feels" long. There are laugh-out-loud moments, and some that may bring a few tears (I heard several weepy sniffs around me in the theater near the end). Don't get the wrong idea... it's not a tear-jerker by any means, and the overall message is a positive one. And can I just say, although America still has plenty of racial issues, as a country we sure have come a long way since the early 60's! It's hard to believe people ever thought that way, and that some still do. I also have to say that I may never look at a chocolate pie again without chuckling.

Monkey at the Movies rating? A whole bunch of bananas!

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