Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer star in 'The Help'

*You can feel the Mississippi heat bearing down as you watch “The Help,” to say nothing of the actual heat wave currently soaking the nation or coming soon to a theater near you.

But make no mistake: This is no easy, breezy summer movie.

That’s a great thing. While the best-selling book that inspired the film has been billed a beach read, its subject is serious — black maids speaking out about their treatment on the cusp of the civil rights movement — and the movie does the story justice. “The Help” will move you and make you burst out laughing. During a month known for forgettable flicks, it leaves a lasting impression.

Most of that is due to stellar performances. If anyone deserves a standing ovation this summer, it’s Viola Davis. (more…)