I’ll say it loud, and I’ll say it proud: I love me some Emma Stone! I had predicted stardom for her after seeing her wonderful performance in “Easy A.” This weekend I watched her act her heart out in two very-different movies, “The Help” and “Crazy, Stupid Love.”
Quickie summary: She was terrific in both flicks. Not that either movie was terrific, though.
First, the Mister and I saw “The Help” Saturday (so glad he likes chick flicks!). I was wary about the movie, because the book by Kathryn Stockett is a masterpiece. How could such a richly written story with such remarkable characters adequately be told on the big screen?
Sadly, it isn’t. The best strategy would be to see the movie before you read the book, which is what my sister Fran is doing. That way you won’t be whispering indignantly to whoever’s closest to you, “That’s not in the book!”
Let’s start with the positives: The acting is wonderful. Even though Emma is too pretty to play Skeeter Phelan (her gangliness and less-than-stellar looks are important to her characterization), she pulls off the role with ease. You can’t help but root for her.
I also especially liked how well the movie portrayed the close relationship between Aibileen (Viola Davis) and Minny (Octavia Spencer), the two domestics who share the storyline with Skeeter in the book (but not in the movie; however, it didn’t bother me that Aibileen really is the central focus). Don’t be surprised if Davis earns an Oscar nod. The young twins who played little Mae Mobley were precious, and Bryce Dallas Howard did a great job with the hated and hateful Hilly.
The movie amazingly teleports you back to Jackson, Mississippi, in the early 1960s. You almost could feel the racial tension of the times. It’s a groundbreaking film with historical importance. It’s very much worth seeing.
Now for the negatives, both having to do with Skeeter’s mother, Charlotte (Allison Janney): First, in the movie you have no idea why Charlotte felt compelled to fire Constantine (Cicely Tyson), her longtime help who raised and loved Skeeter. Her daughter’s name is changed, and you can’t tell by looking at her why Charlotte would be upset that she was in the house during that get-together (I’m trying not to spoil anything).
This was such an important scene that it’s disappointing the flick totally blew it. I’m sure I was sitting in my seat with my mouth open.
Second, at the end Charlotte says and does things (not in the book) that make her look enlightened when she isn’t at all. That really bothered me. Again, these were critical scenes that were ruined by the screenwriter Tate Taylor, a good friend of Stockett. He should not have tampered with brilliance.
So I just can’t give “The Help” as high a rating as I’d like. I so wanted it to be a five-star movie, but it’ll have to settle for three and a half.
“Crazy, Stupid Love”
“Crazy, Stupid Love” was next on tap yesterday, seen with the Mister and our older son (little bro opted to sleep in). Of course, I loved Emma, as well as the rest of the actors. Except for Marisa Tomei (who I usually like); she was too over the top.
This was a cute dramedy with some nice twists and turns along the way. I especially liked the bromance between Steve Carell and hunky Ryan Gosling. But it really dragged in the middle (inviting a couple of Timex checks), and the part at the end at the eighth-grade graduation was simply preposterous. The movie had me for awhile, but it let me go right when I wanted to fall in love with it.
I’m giving it three stars out of five.