Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis star in 'The Help'

*DreamWorks/Disney’s highly anticipated “The Help” opens in theaters tomorrow, Wednesday. Needless to say, there’s a lot of pent up emotion about the film which is based on a novel about the volatile relationships between Southern white women and their black maids at the dawn of the civil rights movement.

When NAACP chairwoman Roslyn Brock heard about the film she, like a lot of black folks was skeptical

“I didn’t have any great expectations for a movie based in the ’60s about domestics,” Brock told the LA Times. “I thought it would be a heavy, dark movie that would bring to mind segregation.”

However, after viewing the film, she’s amended her thinking.

“I felt so proud,” she said. “My grandmother was a domestic in Florida, and when she passed, almost two generations of families whom she had taken care of sent condolences saying what an important part she was to their family. And it never really connected with me until I saw this movie.”

Last week, after a screening of the film at the annual convention in Los Angeles of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People, Brock implored the audience:

“I ask each of you: Tell your friends, your family, your co-workers, your church. Organize screening parties. Go see this movie.”

As DreamWorks prepares to open “The Help,” starring Viola Davis and Emma Stone, on Wednesday, it faces the delicate task of selling the film to moviegoers, black and white, who might be reluctant to rekindle unpleasant memories of segregation. Brock’s shift from doubter to evangelist for the movie illustrates the critical role that word-of-mouth is likely to play in determining whether the film flops or scores as big as its source material, the best-selling 2009 novel by Kathryn Stockett.

Read/learn more at the LA Times.

Dr. Boyce Watkins

On the other side of the coin are African Americans like Dr. Boyce Watkins, who like Brock thought negatively of the film before seeing it. However Watkins, has gone on the record to castigate “Help” and says he never will see it:

“My obvious bias against the film has nothing to do with the quality of the script or the enormous talent of the actresses in the film. Rather, it has to do with the fact that I grow sick and weary of seeing yet another Hollywood production that is so quick to grab onto a racial stereotype. Most of these films have the brave white protagonist, who has the courage to (gasp!) treat us like we’re actually human beings. Films such as ‘A Time to Kill’ and ‘Amistad’ are perfect cases in point: In the midst of telling a very painful story about the Black experience, the film makers always take the time to ensure that the white guy is the hero. So, even when we’ve been self-sufficient, it’s only because a white person has allowed us to do so – even benevolent white supremacy is still white supremacy, nonetheless.”

Read/learn more at NewsOne.