With so many different entertainment options out there for your children, we at PopcornBiz thought we'd take a moment each week to dissect one piece of family entertainment strictly from a parent's perspective, so that you know what parts are appropriate for your loved ones, and which are not. This week's COVER YOUR EYES subject: “The Help.”
Last week was a good one for "The Help", the smash movie adaptation of Kathryn Stockett's saga of Civil Rights-era domestics. The movie was nominated for four Oscars, all in major categories, and it figures to take home at least one of them (likely Octavia Spencer for Best Supporting Actress). The movie also dominated at the SAG Awards on Sunday. This could be a sign that "The Help" is now a legitimate contender to win Best Picture. All it takes is a few Oscar voters to sit back and say to themselves, "Wait, am I REALLY gonna vote for a foreign, silent, black-and-white movie to win Best Picture?", and PRESTO! Oscar gold! But is "The Help" okay for your kids to watch? Let's consider a few factors.
The “Will Parents Be Able To Tolerate It?” Factor: If we're talking about your mom, then the answer is yes. The movie is filled with plenty of female bonding and gossipy antics. If we're talking about your old man, the jury is still out. He's probably trying to stockpile brownie points.
The Dead Parent Factor: Sissy Spacek is suffering from dementia, and Allison Janney's character is suffering from an undescribed terminal illness (probably cancer), but neither woman kicks the bucket. In fact, dementia doesn't rob Spacek of the chance to sass her evil daughter at every turn.
The Sexy Sex Sex Factor: Jessica Chastain scandalizes the town with her low cut shirts, and Emma Stone is wooed by a drunken Suuuuthun gentleman. But otherwise, "The Help" is a relatively chaste affair.
The Violence Factor: There's plenty of implied violence to go around, as is customary in a soapy epic such as this. "The Help" features a police beating, a wife beating, and a miscarriage. Most of this is handled off screen, but that only makes it more disturbing for a child trying to picture what's going on.
The Profanity Factor: You may not approve of the whole "poopy pie" trick Spencer pulls off in the movie. But I bet your six-year-old will LOVE it.
The Racism Factor: Huge. Obviously, the very premise of "The Help" is about women who are forced to work under oppressive, hateful conditions. And so to watch it with a kid is to start a dialogue with them about what Jim Crow was, why it existed, and why people discriminate against one another. That's a whole lot of stuff to talk about, and it may be more than you want to subject a kid to. There's use of n-word, references to the deaths of JFK and Medgar Evers, passive aggressive racism, and a whole lot more. FUN!
Age Range: 12 and up. It's not suitable for young kids, and it wouldn't interest them anyway. Best to save "The Help" for middle school.