In early-'60s Mississippi, aspiring journalist Skeeter (Emma Stone) decides to write a book based on the experiences of the black maids in her hometown of Jackson, women who keep house and raise white children for minimum wage but aren’t allowed to use their employers’ bathrooms. Great idea! Someone should really make a movie about that. The Help
, based on the novel by Kathryn Stockett, is not that movie. Writer-director Tate Taylor seems more interested in his white characters, constantly distracting from the maids’ lives with sub-plots about Skeeter’s romantic life and a sweet, miscarriage-prone employer (Jessica Chastain). Stone and the stunning Viola Davis, as a maid who reluctantly tells her story, give rich performances, but they can’t overcome a superficial script that treats the oppression of black women as a plot prop.