As Cecil Gaines serves eight presidents during his tenure as a butler at the White House, the civil rights movement, Vietnam, and other major events affect this man’s life, family, and American society.
This film is not currently playing on MUBI but 30 other great films are. See what’s now showing
First we had The Blind Side, then we had The Help, and now we have The Butler. What is Hollywood's fascination with movies about downtrodden and subjugated blacks? Would it kill them to make a biopic about someone like, say, George Washington Carver?
With the asinine way this film casts presidents, I was fully ready to see Chris Rock as Barack Obama. The presidents themselves look like parodies and are so shortchanged to being like background figures of the civil rights. But that is one of the many problems in this emotionally-manipulative, overly-simplistic film that is like civil rights Cliff Notes. Can't believe I heard gasps during this film.
It may feel like a TV-movie of the week, with a parade of big name actors in cameo roles as presidents and first ladies, but it also has a heart a mile wide, and it goes a long way. THE BUTLER is somewhat innocent in many ways, but in that regard it reflects in protagonist in an almost accidental way. Equal turns goofy and earnest, it's an ultimately moving film that wins its audience through sheer force of will.
Superficially gleans over context-informing histories to produce a poorly developed but well performed portrait of a man, who is poignantly presented as the epitome of a dignified black American amid 20th century racial tensions. (2.5)
66/100 - Good.
66/100 - Good.
The Butler is a paint by numbers, generic drama that does a disservice to the history that it is portraying. Not even Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey's dynamic performances could have saved this film from mediocrity. Oh and John Cusack's Richard Nixon is unbelievable bad! It's almost worth watching the movie just to see Cusack try act like Nixon! The Butler is in many ways a poor man's Forest Gump.