Any time a book strikes a chord with a vast number of people, as Kathryn Stockett’s The Help did, there is a mixture of anticipation and trepidation about its transition to the screen. Overall, I think writer-director Tate Taylor has done a good job bringing the book and its characters to life, in concert with an exceptional cast. And, crucially, he has managed to recreate the look and feel of a Southern town in the 1960s, with its separate but unequal citizenry: the well-to-do white folks and their black servants.
If you lived through that time, it is incredible to contemplate how much has changed (and how much hasn’t) over the years, not only in race relations but in attitudes toward women. That’s part of the fascination of watching The Help, which captures so many telling details of—
When a movie opens with a woman telling her husband that she wants a divorce after twenty-five years of marriage and it isn’t played for laughs, you know you’re not in for a “typical” Hollywood comedy. Given the current state of comedy, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but what we get instead is an odd, meandering, mood-swinging movie called Crazy, Stupid, Love. (Yes, there’s a period at the end of the title, for no apparent reason.)
As the central couple, Steve Carell and Julianne Moore play their scenes honestly and believably, so while the characters and incidents around them become farcical at times, the core of the film remains—
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