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The Help Review

Movies.com Critics

2.5

Dave White Profile

Needs it. Read full review

4.0

Grae Drake Profile

Awards season comes early. Read full review

Other Critics provided by Metacritic.com

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0
    62

    out of 100

    Metascore®
    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 60

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Kirk Honeycutt

    Taylor does capture the Jim Crow era and its anxieties well, but his characters tend toward the facile and his white heroine is too idealized.

    Read Full Review

  • 70

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    Instead of plunging us into a racist past, however, The Help takes us on a pop-cultural tour that savors the picturesque, and strengthens stereotypes it purports to shatter.

    Read Full Review

  • 75

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    The Help sidesteps easy sentimentality. As the film's heart and soul, Davis and Spencer add vast reserves of depth and dignity to a crowd-pleasing tale.

    Read Full Review

  • 91

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    The Help has a saucy, humorous side.

    Read Full Review

  • See all The Help reviews at Metacritic.com

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 12+

Poignant, thought-provoking Civil Rights tale.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this emotionally intense adaptation of Kathryn Stockett's best-selling Civil Rights-era novel isn't likely to appeal to young kids but is a historically relevant drama that mature tweens and teens can see with their parents. The film not only teaches about segregation and the importance of racial equality, but it also shows how oppressed people have important stories to tell. The language is tame for a PG-13 movie except for the word "s--t," which is used several times, and one casual use of the "N" word by a bus driver. African Americans are referred to as "negro," and a grown-up restaurant worker is called "boy" by white patrons. There's no graphic violence, but a character is obviously physically abused by her husband, and a woman has a miscarriage, leaving her in a pool of her blood. Reflecting the '60s setting, almost everyone (even a pregnant woman) smokes cigarettes and drinks.

  • Families can talk about how the movie depicts African Americans' struggle for racial equality. How accurate do you think it is? How could you find out more about this part of history?
  • Are the characters realistic? Do you consider any of them to be stereotypes? If so, why?
  • Some have criticized Stockett's story for making a white character central to the Civil Rights movement. How is the movie sensitive to this issue? What did you learn about the South under Jim Crow laws?
  • For those who've read the book, how faithful is the movie adaptation? What changes did you like? What do you wish the director had included?

The good stuff
  • message true3

    Messages: The movie doesn't sugarcoat the difficulties of being African American in Jim Crow Mississippi, but there are positive messages about how the '60s were a revolutionary time for Civil Rights, even as so many had to die to achieve it. Through Skeeter, Aibileen, and Minny's partnership, the idea that a member of the "elite" class can find common ground with disenfranchised African-American servants is critical to the movie, even if it was improbable in real life.

  • rolemodels true4

    Role models: Skeeter starts her book project because she wants to be published, but as she gets to know Aibileen and Minny, she realizes that her book is an important exercise in getting disenfranchised voices heard. Aibileen and Minny bravely, carefully buck the Southern system of Jim Crow to share their stories with Skeeter. Aibileen teaches the little girl in her care to be self-confident and loving. Skeeter suffers the consequences of her actions but realizes it was for the best. Skeeter's mom has a change of heart about the way she treated their family housekeeper. Celia sees Minny as an equal and actually befriends her, and Minny helps save Celia from misery.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    Violence: Minny is domestically abused; it happens off-camera, but viewers do see her with bruises on her face. The assassination of Civil Rights activist Medgar Evers is a key moment in the film; President Kennedy's assassination is also discussed. In a disturbing scene, a character suffers a miscarriage and is shown sitting in a small pool of blood. A police officer is rough with an African-American woman he arrests (and her friends), even hitting her in the head with his night stick. Parents sensitive to physical discipline should know that a parent spanks her child for a minor "mistake." A mother recounts how her son was basically left for dead by his white employers; another woman explains how she was threatened at gun point. The maids seem genuinely fearful of white men, whom they know could kill them without any repercussions.

  • sex false1

    Sex: For the first half of the movie, there's virtually no sexuality (except for the occasional presence of Celia, who wears form-fitting outfits and has considerable cleavage). In the second half, Skeeter goes on a date that turns into her first serious relationship, although she and her boyfriend only kiss and hold hands. A woman's history of multiple miscarriages is discussed; she and her husband are depicted as playful and flirty. Other married couples embrace and dance at a holiday gala.

  • language false3

    Language: The word "s--t" is of prominent importance to the storyline and is said several times throughout the movie. Other language includes "damn," "hell," "jackass," "a--hole," "goddamn," "oh my God," and the "N" word, which is used once, in a casual, matter-of-fact way: "Some n---er just got shot, now y'all got to get off the bus." Hilly often pronounces the words "negro" and "negra" in a way that sounds like "niggra." Other insults used toward the help include "thievin'," "sass-mouthin'," and "no-good."

  • consumerism false1

    Consumerism: Coca-Cola is shown a couple of times, as is a Piggly Wiggly supermarket.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Accurately for the '60s setting, almost everyone in the movie (even a pregnant character) smokes. One character orders drink after drink on a blind date. A woman gets drunk at a party and accidentally rips her social rival's sleeve; she then throws up on her adversary's party gown.

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