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Movie Reviews
by Todd Pearage

Help, The (12/06/2011)


Rated PG-13 for thematic material.

Starring Emma Stone, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer

Directed by Tate Taylor (Pretty Ugly People)


Todd's Rating: Theatre Worthy

No, I didn’t read Kathryn Stockett's best-selling novel, but if it is anything like the film I can understand why it is so popular.

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 as Skeeter, Viola Davis 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. Deeply moving, filled with poignancy, humor and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the ability to create change.

It may surprise many of my friends to hear that I actually enjoyed The Help. I mean the theater was packed with women, the movie is about women and obviously made for women. But it’s a movie that is so rich in emotion, history and humor. It's also full of prejudice, pain, compassion and courage.

And when you allow yourself to be transported to Mississippi in the early 1960s, you will appreciate this film so much more. When you see the wealthy white women use black maids to raise their children but refuse to allow them to use the family bathrooms — it will definitely make an impression.

The Help was adapted and directed by a relatively unknown director, Tate Taylor. I was blown away by how seamless and well done this movie was.

At first I was disappointed by all the cliché characters — the country bumpkin, the pure racist, the social climber and so on. But the more I thought about it - it is Mississippi, it is 1963, it is the epicenter of American racism -- more than likely those characters existed.

The Help was appalling at times, entertaining at times, and touching at times, but more importantly I think it was healing at times. Surprising as it may be…I’m going Theater Worthy.


SHOULD KIDS SEE IT?
Really the biggest concern is when a woman has a miscarriage, a lot of blood is seen on the floor. It is a very bloody scene-- might be frightening for young children.

There is a handful of “s”-words and God’s name is used in vain twice. And "negro" or the N-word is used around a dozen or more times.

The way black people are treated can be hard to watch. They are treated as second-class citizens and this is quite disturbing.


Conversation Starter
Three Simple Questions (with Answers You May Be Looking for):

Q: What’s the message/theme of this movie?

A: The theme of this movie is focused on racial discrimination and prejudice. It’s painful to watch how awful people can treat one another. As you watched the movie, what emotions did you experience?


Q: How do you suppose we—as serious Christ-followers—should react to this movie?
A: How do you think Jesus would respond to racial discrimination and prejudice? Why do you think that?

Read Romans 15:5-7, “May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other-- each with the attitude of Christ Jesus toward the other. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. So accept each other just as Christ has accepted you; then God will be glorified.”

Describe what you think our world would look like if we “lived in complete harmony with each other.”


Q: How can we move from healthy, Bible-based opinions about this movie to actually living out those opinions?
A: The last part of that verse says we need to “accept each other just as Christ has accepted you.” Is there anyone or any group of people you have a difficult time accepting? Why?

Discuss some things you can do this week to be more accepting.



Todd Pearage Todd Pearage is a movie buff at heart, but he's not your traditional film critic. Todd is a blue collar film geek, from his job years ago at Blockbuster to his heartfelt online movie reviews. But Todd isn't just a film geek. He has worked with middle and high school students since 1991 as a youth pastor and is currently on staff at Calvary Church in Souderton, PA. Todd and his wife Lynda have three children, Brianna, Caleb and Addyson.



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