You may have wondered, if you are in the film business, why did Disney want Dreamworks? The answer is “The Help,” which opens August 10th and is astonishingly good. I mean, it’s so good that Disney will be going to awards shows this winter with actual people instead of just animated characters. “The Help,” of course, comes from tbe best seller, and that doesn’t always guarantee a good outcome. In this case, boy oh boy, everyone got what they paid for and then some.
Right off the bat: Bryce Dallas Howard, the actress/producer and Ron Howard‘s talented daughter, finally breaks through with this film. She is just mesmerizing as the nastiest piece of work you could hope to find a film. Her Hilly hasn’t got one redeeming feature. She is a racist and truly awful. But despite being a villainess extraordinaire, Bryce is never once campy or stereotypical.
Then there are the heroes: Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer as the maids, and Emma Stone–this is really her summer. I am so proud of Viola Davis, a Tony winner and Oscar nominee who is a powerhouse in any setting. She went toe to toe with Meryl Streep in “Doubt.” Her Aibileen is the heart and soul of this movie. And Octavia Spencer is going to be an overnight sensation a la Mo’Nique, only extremely endearing and likeable. Add in stand out work from Alison Janney, Sissy Spacek, Brian Kerwin, Cicely Tyson. And then there’s yet another potential Oscar nominee in Jessica Chastain–unrecognizable–as the lively bad blonde in town.
Get ready for “The Help” to hit the box office like a tornado. And it’s not just a “chick flick.” This movie is too interesting, and its issues are too complex, to be pigeonholed that way. But if you need to hang a hook on it, “The Help” takes the best of “Fried Green Tomatoes,” “Steel Magnolias,” and a little seen gem called “The Long Walk Home,” and makes a new, entertaining concoction.