Finally, someone around here got a moment to go see the film that has had everyone talking all summer… provided those people weren’t at SciFi conventions dressed as Boba Fett.
Finally, someone around here got a moment to go see the film that has had everyone talking all summer… provided those people weren’t at SciFi conventions dressed as BoboFett.
Anyway, the last convention is next week so I had one evening to myself to go see this thing that came out three months ago. And of course, it wasn’t playing anywhere around here. NO. It was a 40 minute drive to Norwalk to the most bizarre movie theatre that I have seen.
Right beside the 60’s wonder that is the Norwalk City Hall was what appeared to be some sort of kickback developer scam/cash for votes building. What looked like a AMC 20 that would normally be attached to a large mall is in fact just 20 theaters surrounded by parking lots, a Doubletree Hotel, and an Outback Steakhouse. But for the millions that they were expecting, they built a three level parking structure with a footbridge to the front ticket office. It’s as if they saw Field of Dreams and thought that was a great model for urban planning. And of course, they built it and no one came, because Thursday at 7 p.m. we seemed to have the entire place to ourselves! So we stepped into what we called our private screening room, we sat through some odd trailers, and watched The Help.
Based on a best selling book, though I did not buy it nor did I ever hear from anyone who read it before this movie was released, it is a story of the maids of the Jackson, Mississippi and the employers who were complete dicks to them. But since it is the early 60’s, the only way to get that story out requires a plucky young writer who’s name is Skeeter. She is the only girl who seems to remember that she was lovingly raised by a maid and so doesn’t seem to harbor any racist feelings toward anyone. This allows her to sit at the table of Abilene et al to write down their stories. It goes on to be big hit and changes the way everyone relates to everyone else, plus Skeeter gets an editing job in New York City because of it. Everyone wins. Oh yeah… spoiler alert.
The subtitle of this movie might as well have been “the revenge of the pie” since a major portion of the flick is positioned around a Titus Andronicus like revenge story of a scatological nature. That becomes the running gag that allows for status transfers in the cliquey ladies circle as everyone gets there comeuppance and the most snotty racists of the bunch get taken down a peg or five. It was a point my Mom always made; how could you even think to be rude to a person who is cooking and serving you food? It is your most vulnerable supply chain link to your own livelihood, and you are going to yell and demean that person? That is so shockingly against your own self interest and it is why I am extra nice to my wait staff and tip heavily even at Baja Fresh. Point proven here.
Now in the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I have regularly employed maids since I was in college and discovered that I am a slob, but they would come in every second week usually when I was out. So it more like I had cleaning pixies come in the morning and magically make my place camera ready for a magazine shoot. I also traveled so much that one maid just stopped coming even though I was still paying her. So, clearly, that was quite different that having someone in your life from 9-5 daily cleaning, cooking, and raising your children. I would have hated that.
The period details are buffed to a fine point (with some car collector making a mint in rental fees to the production), and everyone does their loveliest Southern accent. It is interesting that this was mostly a story of racism as told through the women of Jackson, Mississippi and that men either are jerks or just unimportant to this story. And that seems to make it all the more insidious. The acting is intense when the maids unleash their anger, and Emma Stone as Skeeter is like a sober, non-bloated Lindsay Lohan who went to therapy and acting school. Everyone pulls their weight when sharing the screen and so there is nothing to complain about there.
I guess I just thought that it was going to be better. After everyone rushing to see it, talking about seeing it, saying they saw it, then saying you HAVE to see it, it was a let down. How could not be?
In order for the seething anger to simmer below the surface, everything else had to be taken to a soft boil as well.
So now, with the South thoroughly examined from Gone with The Wind, In the Heat of the Night, Mississippi Burning, Fried Green Tomatoes, everything by Tennessee Williams, all the Katrina documentaries, and Ken Burns’ Civil War, I think that we can all agree that ignorance is bad, closed minded social groups cause harm to those not in them, and in the end, you should have told the truth about your evil things you and family did. Can I now see a movie set in Green Bay, Wisconsin?