The Help Reviews

Top Critic
Cath Clarke
Time Out
October 25, 2011
Yes, it gets a bit sentimental. Yes, some 'Ya-Ya Sisterhood' friendship clichés creep in. Yes, it glosses history. But it's also heartfelt, hilarious and the cast is a dream-team topped by Viola Davis.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
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Joe Morgenstern
Wall Street Journal
August 11, 2011
"The Help" takes us on a pop-cultural tour that savors the picturesque, and strengthens stereotypes it purports to shatter.
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Lisa Kennedy
Denver Post
August 11, 2011
Thanks to a talented cast -- starting with leads Emma Stone, Viola Davis​ and Octavia Spencer​ -- the movie is often entertaining. But The Help should have been challenging too.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Ben Sachs
Chicago Reader
August 11, 2011
As in many reductive period pieces, there are no real characters here, just archetypes, namely reactionary cretins and sensitive souls who anticipate modern attitudes.
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Dana Stevens
Slate
August 11, 2011
The Help is a high-functioning tearjerker, but the catharsis it offers feels glib and insufficient, a Barbie Band-Aid on the still-raw wound of race relations in America.
Top Critic
David Denby
New Yorker
August 10, 2011
[The Help] is, in some ways, crude and obvious, but it opens up a broad new swath of experience on the screen, and parts of it are so moving and well acted that any objections to what's second-rate seem to matter less as the movie goes on.
Top Critic
Tom Long
Detroit News
August 10, 2011
Appalling, entertaining, touching and perhaps even a bit healing, The Help is an old-fashioned grand yarn of a film, the sort we rarely get these days.
Full Review | Original Score: B+
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Amy Biancolli
Houston Chronicle
August 10, 2011
A splendid entertainment -- a film that makes us for root for the good guys, hiss at the bad and convulse in laughter when good wreaks vengeance with a smile.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5
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Rafer Guzman
Newsday
August 10, 2011
The Help brings a chick-flick sensibility to a serious subject, which is more daring than it might sound. It's also incredibly refreshing.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Elizabeth Weitzman
New York Daily News
August 10, 2011
While the book's minor -- but crucial -- details are often overlooked, the major themes are thrust on screen with forceful simplicity, as if Taylor doesn't trust us to understand the stakes.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/5
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Connie Ogle
Miami Herald
August 10, 2011
The Help will make you laugh, yes, but it can also break your heart. In the dog days of August moviegoing, that's a powerful recommendation.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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David Edelstein
New York Magazine/Vulture
August 10, 2011
The Help belongs to Viola Davis.
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Rick Groen
Globe and Mail
August 10, 2011
Now comes the inevitable movie, which, in the hands of writer/director Tate Taylor, does a novel about injustice an injustice itself: It turns lite into featherweight.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Chris Vognar
Dallas Morning News
August 10, 2011
There's something lived-in and genuine about this infectious melodrama.
Full Review | Original Score: B+
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Scott Tobias
AV Club
August 10, 2011
Shot like an inductee in the Hallmark Hall Of Fame, The Help covers an ugly era in superficial gloss that's only punctured by the particulars of Mississippi race law or hiring practices that are a mere hairsbreadth away from slavery.
Full Review | Original Score: D+
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William Goss
Film.com
August 10, 2011
While it may not always be subtle, it pulls off a rare feat of sincerity.
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Owen Gleiberman
Entertainment Weekly
August 10, 2011
The movie isn't perfect; it sometimes shows its stitching. But mostly it's a stirring salute to subjugated women who hold their heads high.
Full Review | Original Score: A-
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Mary F. Pols
TIME Magazine
August 10, 2011
For every obvious turn The Help takes, there is Davis, the ideal counterweight.
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Keith Uhlich
Time Out
August 10, 2011
Mississippi's burning, but it's nothing a little race-transcending grrrl power won't cure.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/5
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Andrew O'Hehir
Salon.com
August 10, 2011
"The Help" definitely worked on me as a consummate tear-jerker with a terrific cast, and it's pretty much the summer's only decent Hollywood drama.
Top Critic
Sara Stewart
New York Post
August 10, 2011
Aims for "To Kill a Mockingbird" significance, but lands in "Steel Magnolias" territory.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Peter Rainer
Christian Science Monitor
August 9, 2011
Despite its subject matter, it's a carefully manicured, almost genteel piece of moviemaking. The film is paradoxically both rousing and lulling.
Full Review | Original Score: B-
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Claudia Puig
USA Today
August 9, 2011
Fans of the best-selling novel can rest easy: The warmly engaging book has been made into an equally affecting movie.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
August 9, 2011
While my neighbor had used up her hankie supply by the end of the movie, I left dry-eyed and disappointed.
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Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
August 9, 2011
I was drawn into the characters and quite moved, even though all the while I was aware it was a feel-good fable, a story that deals with pain but doesn't care to be that painful.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Carrie Rickey
Philadelphia Inquirer
August 9, 2011
Like its characters, it has its faults. But overall, it is a movie of imaginative sympathy that gets into the skin of its characters, into their hearts, and, ultimately, into ours.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Linda Barnard
Toronto Star
August 9, 2011
Occasionally the sentimental sweep of the picture threatens to overwhelm, but Taylor manages to pull it back in time.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Meghan Keane
New York Observer
August 9, 2011
The uneven racial terrain of the film likely won't stand in the way of multiple nominations for some truly outstanding performances throughout the movie.
Top Critic
Karen D'Souza
San Jose Mercury News
August 9, 2011
This is one shameless tear-jerker that earns its sniffles.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Ann Hornaday
Washington Post
August 9, 2011
Both taste and perspective will inform whether viewers will find The Help a revelatory celebration of interracial healing and transcendence, or a patronizing portrait that trivializes those alliances by reducing them to melodrama and facile uplift.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
Betsy Sharkey
Los Angeles Times
August 9, 2011
Laughter, which is ladled on thick as gravy, proves to be the secret ingredient -- turning what should be a feel-bad movie about those troubled times into a heart-warming surprise.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Top Critic
Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
August 9, 2011
The Help is an exhilarating gift, a deeply touching human story filled with humor and heartbreak, and sublime performances from Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Emma Stone and Co.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
Michael Phillips
Chicago Tribune
August 9, 2011
"The Help" has Viola Davis going for it, and she is more than enough.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Karina Longworth
Village Voice
August 9, 2011
We get a fairly typical Hollywood flattening of history, with powerful villains and disenfranchised heroes.
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Manohla Dargis
New York Times
August 9, 2011
Save for Ms. Davis's, the performances are almost all overly broad, sometimes excruciatingly so, characterized by loud laughs, bugging eyes and pumping limbs.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/5
Top Critic
Joe Williams
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
August 9, 2011
When an important message is delivered through cardboard cutouts, it's akin to a Tyler Perry production of "Guess Who's Cooking the Dinner."
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
August 9, 2011
"The Help" avoids the trap of recasting a story of black struggle into the story of a white savior.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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Wesley Morris
Boston Globe
August 9, 2011
"The Help'' comes out on the losing end of the movies' social history. The best film roles three black women will have all year require one of them to clean Ron Howard's daughter's house. It's self-reinforcing movie imagery.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Stephen Whitty
Newark Star-Ledger
August 9, 2011
It's ... the black actresses who own this - as they should - and help lift it above well-intentioned melodrama.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Bill Goodykoontz
Arizona Republic
August 9, 2011
"The Help" is filled with good acting and better intentions.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5
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Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times
August 9, 2011
Is the movie version of "The Help" better than the book? Yes, it is, primarily for one reason: The book doesn't have Viola Davis in it.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Kirk Honeycutt
Hollywood Reporter
August 8, 2011
There are small moments in the film though that make you long for a movie that is not so deep-dish serious and self-conscious.
Top Critic
Peter Debruge
Variety
August 8, 2011
It serves as an enlightening and deeply affecting exercise in empathy for those who've never considered what life must have been like for African-Americans living with inequality a full century after the Emancipation Proclamation called an end to slavery.
Top Critic
Glenn Kenny
MSN Movies
August 8, 2011
Sounds kinda like Mississippi Burning meets Steel Magnolias, doesn't it?
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/5
Top Critic
David Germain
Associated Press
August 8, 2011
Stone, Davis and Spencer forge something quite beautiful, a sense of sisterhood and equality that unfolds with ease and grace, never feeling forced or untrue to their era and circumstances.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4