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The Help” could be a lot more thorny than it is, but as a tale of bigotry and racial prejudice set in Jackson, Mississippi, in the early 1960s, its contours are surprisingly smooth. It doesn’t have the high rage factor of, say, 1988’s “Mississippi Burning,” nor the intense, provocative drama of 1990’s “The Long Walk Home” — both landmark films that deal with race and the civil rights movement. Instead, “The Help” is quite palatable, and whatever sarcasm or irony director/writer Tate Taylor may have intended are done up in metaphorical candy wrappers, much like the skirts worn by its privileged white women characters.

“The Help” does, however, throw around ideas and nuggets of wisdom designed to lead the viewer off on a process of pondering. Its very title suggests the film is more of an aid or a guideline to start thinking, rather than something that will come out with a magic solution to make everything OK.

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