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“The Help” off to a strong start

By Kim Palacios

hollywoodnews.com: Second only to “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” in the weekend box office, “The Help” is off to a strong start. Earning $25.5 million on opening weekend and an estimated $35.4 million lifetime gross to date, the adaptation of the Kathryn Stockett novel is poised to be a hit.

This was not a given. For all of its critical acclaim, “The Help” has frequently come under fire since its 2009 release. Controversy surrounds the handling of charged racial issues and the authenticity of Stockett’s portrayals. Two of the three narrator voices in the novel are black maids, yet Stockett herself is white, a fact that garnered both praise, and criticism, from myriad groups.

Yet, audience reaction is positive, even if critical reviews are mixed. Critic approval topped out at 73%, with many sentiments echoing those of Dana Stevens’ (Slate): “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.” However, Rotten Tomatoes reports 93% audience approval, more than enough to turn it into a big screen hit.

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