There's sort of two ways to look at DreamWorks' upcoming civil rights drama, "The Help." Set in the 1960s during the civil rights movement, the picture is either (or probably) a) an Oscar contender, b) a literate-minded chick flick (this is a starved audience and Oprah will be endorsing this, you can be sure of it) or c) an interesting mix of the two that may have some worthwhile elements such as, say, "Julie & Julia." August isn't much of an Oscar month so we're leaning away from a), however, the respectable "Julie & Julia" came out in August of 2009 and it earned Meryl Streep a much-earned 16th Oscar nomination (she didn't win, but she's won Best Actress twice) so there is that.
Starring Viola Davis (who is on our minds as an early Oscar contender), Bryce Dallas Howard, Octavia Spencer, and Emma Stone. the trailer has arrived. More below, including two more new images, but the film's short log-line is a "look at what happens when a southern town's unspoken code of rules and behavior is shattered by three courageous women who strike up an unlikely friendship."
Here's the full-length synopsis:
Based on one of the most talked about books in years and a #1 New York Times best-selling phenomenon, “The Help” stars Emma Stone (“Easy A”) as Skeeter, Academy Award®–nominated Viola Davis (“Doubt”) as Aibileen and Octavia Spencer as Minny—three very different, extraordinary women in Mississippi during the 1960s, who build an unlikely friendship around a secret writing project that breaks societal rules and puts them all at risk. From their improbable alliance a remarkable sisterhood emerges, instilling all of them with the courage to transcend the lines that define them, and the realization that sometimes those lines are made to be crossed—even if it means bringing everyone in town face-to-face with the changing times.
So, the verdict? Well, it's looking a lot more like that B option up there. Expect this to play right to the "Eat Pray Love" and "Julie & Julia" crowd. If it walks away with an Oscar nod that will be a nice icing on the cake, but we'd wager the studio isn't going to be pushing that card very hard. We're not quite sure we buy Stone as a ballsy reporter who smashes color lines just yet, but as the trailer kept moving, we got more comfortable with it. Perhaps not our cup of tea, but there is a big, huge audience for this and it looks like it's going to play gangbusters with that crowd. Directed by actor/filmmaker Tate Taylor ("Pretty Ugly People"), "The Help" arrives in theaters August 12, 2011.