Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Video review: "The Help"
I would not be surprised to see "The Help" get a raft of Academy Award nominations. Viola Davis and Octavia Spence seem like locks in the Best Supporting Actress Category, playing African-American maids struggling with racism and oppression in 1960s Mississippi. And Bryce Dallas Howard might just slide in there, too, as the catty queen bee of the white social establishment.
Emma Stone has a shot at a Best Actress nomination too, playing "Skeeter" Phelan, the recently graduated college woman and aspiring journalist who takes it upon herself to write about "the help" -- black women who essentially raise the children of white well-to-do families, only to be rewarded with condescension and Jim Crow status quo when those young ones grow up into adults.
For that matter, writer/director Tate Taylor did a smart job translating the phenomenally popular book by Kathryn Stockett to the screen, taking syrupy chick flick material and turning it into a moving and surprisingly funny portrait of Southern womanhood, in all its gritty glory and brittle pettiness. An Oscar nomination might just be in his future, too.
Heck, for that matter, why not a Best Picture nod for "The Help"? How many other films have grabbed audiences this year like this one, leaving them rolling in the aisles and with tears on their cheeks? It's sure to be a big hit on video.
One disappointing note is that video extras are rather on the lean side. The DVD version comes only with a few deleted scenes and “The Living Proof” music video by Mary J. Blige.
Upgrade to the Blu-ray, and you add a few more deleted scenes, and two featurettes – a making-of documentary and a tribute to real-life maids of Mississippi.
Movie: 3.5 stars out of four
Extras: 2 stars