Due to circumstances beyond my control my plans for the weekend were entirely derailed. They say when the going gets tough, the tough get going. So I went… to a couple movies. After interviewing Linda Harrison (played Nova opposite Charlton Heston in Planet of the Apes and Beneath the Planet of the Apes) a couple months back I was thinking I really should see Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Then, this evening when I should have been working, my brother and sister-in-law kidnapped me and dragged me to see The Help.
For both features I went to the Celebration Cinema at the Woodland Mall in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I like going there because, well, I’m cheap, I mean it is cheap to go there. They show second run movies for $3.99 and I bought a refillable popcorn bucket that lets me get free popcorn when I go there so its a great place to catch a flick with the full theater experience without the full theater price.
I loved the old Planet of the Apes series and was thinking that a new chapter or reimagining of the series wouldn’t do justice to the original. I was wrong. While the original series involves some playing around with time pardoxes, this movie explains the future dominance of the apes and other simians through genetic tampering in simians and humans via an untested virus that blows across the globe at the end.
While the genetic tampering concept is a definite divergence from the original history, it worked well for me and eliminated the need for a time paradox to explain things. So it is much tidier concept than the original.
The acting was great all around, as well as the puppetry and special effects but, while I can’t mention everyone I thought was great in it, I have to mention some of my favorites.
James Franco was the Genetic researcher who was frantically trying to cure his father’s (John Lithgow) Alzheimer’s. Mr. Franco’s performance was great and I have loved all the many characters that John Lithgow has played and this is no exception. Mr. Lithgow has been one of my favorite actors for many years and his portrayal of the father got me a little misty eyed at times, especially his interactions with Ceasar (played by Andy Serkis – also an excellent actor!)
Another of my favorites in the movie was David Hewlett who plays the wonderfully annoying Dr. Rodney McKay in the various Stargate shows. In Rise of the Planet of the Apes as Mr. Hunisker, the neighbor, he can be credited with having Ceasar taken away and caged up with other simians which precipitates Ceasar abuse and rise as the leader of the simians. Later Mr. Hunisker can be thanked for spreading the virus across the globe and sealing the doom of mankind and the worldwide uplifting of the simians to human intelligence.
Also worth mentioning are the two actors that play his son Todd Hunisker. Joey Roche Plays his young son Todd earlier in the movie. Later when Todd is a teen he is played by Sean Connor Roche, Joey’s brother. When I was watching the movie I wasn’t sure if it was the same actor somehow or if they just found two very well matched actors. I wasn’t surprised to find that they cast two brothers for the part. They were well cast and I expect they will be finding many roles for years to come.
I must confess that, from the advertisements I had seen about The Help, I had no desire to see it. It sounded like a movie about gossip and its effects on a community and I really hadn’t given it much thought but I blame mom here on this one. She said I would like it and she was right.
An odd thread that connects the two movies is having a wonderful actor playing a character that is suffering from Alzheimers. Sissy Spacek plays the Alzheimers suffering Missus Walters, mother to Hilly Holbrook (played by Bryce Dallas Howard – I LOVED her in Lady in the Water!) In The Help, Hilly is the character that really makes the gorge rise in your throat and she does it masterfully well. By the end of the movie you will have laughed with her mother, knowing that she ate, well, black bottom pie.
Again, I couldn’t begin to do justice to the many great performances in this movie, but Emma Stone as Skeeter, Viola Davis as Aibileen Clark, and Octavia Spencer as Minny Jackson were wonderful as was Cicely Tyson. In her movie premiere, the adorable Emma Henry was a real show stealer as Mae Mobley.
All said, The Help was far more than I had expected, having me shaking with laughter one moment and then misting my eyes the next.
If you haven’t caught these two movies yet, they are definitely worth the price of admission!