The Help – Movie 2011

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Yesterday I watched The Help, the movie adaptation of the book by the same name.  It was awesome!

For those of you who have never read the book, this is a story about a young lady named Skeeter who wants to become a writer, and the relationship she develops with a couple of maids in Jackson, Mississippi during the Civil Rights era.  All of the women will be in grave danger if they are caught as they work on their writing project — sharing what it’s like to live as a black maid in the South during that time period.  If you want to know more about what I thought of the book, check out my book review.

My thoughts:

I was already a fan of the novel, so I was a bit nervous to see how they had translated it to the big screen.  I’m happy to say that the movie adaptation of the book was strong.  I think a large part of the movie’s success is in its amazing actresses.  Whether they are good or bad, all of the ladies played their parts really well.  Even Hilly, the bat-sh** craziest of the Southern belles, excited a certain fascination in me.  She’s one of those characters you love to hate.

The movie was shortened and simplified somewhat from the book, but that is nothing unexpected.  I don’t think the essence of the story was damaged in any way.  I was glad to see that they took out the scene in which Minny and Celia are accosted at Celia’s house.  I thought that it was out of place in the book, and it would have been even more mystifying in the movie.

The true artistry in this film is the message it shares.  Viewers are shown a story of love, acceptance, betrayal, and hatred–and asked to come to their own conclusions.  Who was right and who was wrong?  Can relationships based on respect, compassion and a desire to do what’s right, overcome the color barrier?  Should we take a risk in working with someone different from ourselves, even at the risk of getting burned?  This message needs to be heard today, just as it did during the Civil Rights era, because our country’s racial issues certainly haven’t gone away.

I recommend The Help to all adults and possibly some mature older teens.  Even if you’re not a history buff, it’s still a wonderful story worth watching.

Possible Objections:

  • A moderate amount of bad language
  • Racially offensive language

Rated: PG-13

Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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Confessions of Shopaholic – Movie 2009

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Last night I watched Confessions of a Shopaholic, the movie adaptation of the book by the same name.  I hadn’t even known that they had made it into a movie, until quite recently.

As a very quick synopsis, the story is about a young lady named Rebecca Bloomwood who absolutely loves to shop and would like nothing better than to write for the well-known fashion magazine, Alette.  She tries to climb the corporate ladder by starting at a magazine entitled Successful Saving, but runs into many hurdles brought on by her own reckless spending habits.  If you want to know more about what I thought of the book, check out my book review.

My thoughts:

I really enjoyed the book, but it’s been almost a year since I’ve read it, so many of the details have slipped away.  That’s probably a good thing when watching the film adaptation of the book, because I didn’t get caught up in comparing every little thing to the book.  I had a general gist of what was going to happen, but the story was just there for my enjoyment.

Even though it’s been a year since I read the book, I could tell that they had taken some liberties with the original story.  However, I don’t think that the changes adversely affected the story, so much as created their own alternative story.  There is still the love interest, Becky’s awful spending habits, the extremely awkward situations, and a day when she must reckon with the mess that she has made.  However, most of the heavy and serious stuff is taken out of the story.  Maybe that’s why they changed some major plot elements–so it would be more of a fluff story.

I think that I liked the movie version of Becky better than the book version.  It probably has to do with the fact that Isla Fisher is completely likeable and charm seems to ooze from her pores.  I’m not sure how I feel about the changes made to Becky and Luke’s relationship in the movie.  I suppose they wanted to simplify and condense it, instead of making it develop over a period of time, as it did in the book.

I have to say something about the animated mannequins here.  At first they kind of creeped me out, but as the film progressed they started to make sense.  Since shopping is such an integral part of who Becky is and since it is a magical experience for her, I think that the “living” mannequins were a good choice.

The film is fairly tame.  There’s one instance of the b-word, at least one instance of the a-word, lots of leg and cleavage exposure, and a drinking session with her friend while they go through credit card bills.

I recommend this movie to teens and women who want to watch a feel-good romantic comedy.  While it’s not the best I’ve ever seen, it is one that I wouldn’t hesitate to watch with friends.  If you’re hoping for it to accurately reflect the book, you will be disappointed.  Look at it as a cousin of the book.

Possible Objections:

  • a handful of bad language
  • some ladies show lots of skin
  • a drinking scene
  • a cat fight

Rated: PG

Rating: 3 1/2 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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Precious – Movie 2009

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Last night I watched Precious, the movie based on Sapphire’s novel entitled Push.  I won’t tell you too much about the plot, but comment more on how the movie compares to the book.  As stated in my book review, this is a difficult story to digest.  It’s very raw–the language, the subject matter, and the delivery. I was somewhat scared to see the film version, fearing that seeing the visual representation of this story would be too intense to stomach.

The first thing that needs addressing is how they handled Precious being sexually assaulted by her dad.  This could have been truly terrifying to see on the screen.  I like that they chose to film it the way they did, with just a few clips of related imagery and then quickly breaking away to Precious’ daydream (which is how she coped).  The assault didn’t get too much screen time (certainly not nearly as much coverage as it did in the book) which helps to cement the idea that this story is really about who Precious is as a person.  She isn’t defined by what happens to and around her.

Which brings us to the actress who played Precious, Gabourey Sidibe.  This young woman did an amazing job playing a very difficult role.  I was convinced that she was Precious.  The range of emotions and situations her role encompassed was rather staggering.

Precious’ mother was a truly despicable character, and I’m blown away by how masterfully Mo’Nique acted out her part.  In particular, I was surprised by her breakdown at the end in front of the social worker.  It helped me to understand her character better, though it still didn’t make me like her any better.  (This was also one of the worst, as in most uncomfortable, scenes I’ve ever had to watch in a movie.  I’m glad that they kept her mother’s sexual assault out of the limelight for almost all of the move.  It was just too much to handle, I felt.)  As a side note, the overly heartfelt and apologetic confession/apology of her mother’s was mostly fabricated for the movie.  Precious never got any such heartfelt apology in the book that would help her gain some closure.  They also prematurely returned Mongo to her, but let’s not split hairs.

There was a bit of free license taken with the movie, but I don’t think any of it materially detracted from the story.  You will still get the same raw, intense story that is folded between the pages of the book.

I would highly suggest that you watch the interviews with Sapphire and the movie’s director in the bonus features to learn more about how this story came to be.  It is eye-opening.

Because of the intense and awful things contained in this story, I recommend it to adults.  Be forewarned–you will be uncomfortable!

Possible Objections:

  • A lot of bad language
  • Violence
  • Sexual assault of a child

Rated: R

Rating: 3 1/2 Stars

 

Until next time…

Lori

 

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