Sunday, August 18, 2013

Lee Daniels' The Butler review

Kind of like Forrest Gump except the main character doesn't have an IQ below 75. Oh, and he's a butler.
Cecil Gaines is a man born in the cotton fields of North Carolina., worked his way up to being a head butler in The White House, and worked there for 7 presidents. During this time he also had to keep his wife from drinking,, help his rebellious son from getting killed in the race riots, and still remain loyal to the U.S. of A. Quite a life. This is "inspired" by a true story, so I don't know how much of it is true. But, let's forget that and act as this is a fictional movie, because that will make things a lot easier. Lee Daniels, who directed this film, has done a few notable works. None of which I have seen. (Sorry guys!) So I can't say how this compares to his last movies, but I can say that this movie is pretty good. I find Forest Whitaker to be a very good actor, who is in very few good movies. He's had small parts in Platoon and Fast Times at Ridgemont High, but in 2006 he got his big break in The Last King of Scotland as Idi Amin (which he won an Oscar for). Maybe he'll win an Oscar for The Butler. His performance here is great. He portrays Cecil Gaines' modest demeanor and hard working self very well. He makes the character seem real. Whitaker really slips into the character and his life like it's a second skin. You're not watching Forest Whitaker, you're watching Cecil Gaines. Now Whitaker was good, but Oprah Winfrey (yes, The Oprah Winfrey) is really spectacular here. I haven't seen her in The Color Purple so I can't compare, but she was certainly gave the best performance of the entire movie and of her life (probably)! Cuba Gooding Jr. was pretty good as Cecil's friend and fellow butler. I don't know what happen to Cuba, he used to be in a lot of stuff but he really seemed to have dropped off the radar recently. Terrence Howard, James Marsden, and David Oyelowo give some of the better smaller performances also. This movie is star-studded. It has a crap load of famous people in it. I feel like this was done less because of the actor's talent and more to gain attention. Every president here is played by some big name star like Robin Williams or Alan Rickman. Then there are a bunch of other (seemingly needless) roles  occupied by celebrities. Mariah Carey and Jane Fonda give some very pointless cameos here that seem just to make you go "Oh wow look at that famous person who I recognize!". The reason this bothered me is because The Butler didn't need big stars to make it entertaining. It's a good enough movie as it is! The pointless celebrity cameos only annoyed me. Although it was pretty cool to John Cusack with a fake nose and talking like Richard Nixon. Crappy movies like Now You See Me or New Years Eve need to be loaded with big stars to seem watchable, The Butler can stand alone with only Forest Whitaker, Oprah, and it's story. And although it can seem incredibly sappy and predictable at times, mostly The Butler is a good hearted and well-acted flick. Does it deserve Best Picture? No. Does Oprah Winfrey deserve Best Actress? Yes. I give Lee Daniels' The Butler 4 out of 5 stars. Happy Viewing! You can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at!  


  1. Basically, it's two flicks thrown into one, and they both sort of work. One better than the other, but at least it kept me interested for the most part. Good review Whit.

    1. Thanks Dan! I agree. Now that I think back, this movie isn't as great as I originally thought.