Review: Lee Daniels' The Butler

Cameo Heaven.
 
Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker) grew up on a cotton farm. When he finally leaves that horrible place, he gets a job as a butler at a hotel and eventually works his way up to becoming a butler at the White House. Cecil served eight presidencies. He does his job well, but he's conflicted when his oldest son, Louis (played mostly by David Oyelowo) joins a group that is fighting for their civil rights in the south. Obviously he's concerned about all the danger there, but Louis wants to do what's right.
 
This film was very moving. I'm finding it quite hard to put it into words. Like all of Lee Daniels' movies, this felt raw and at times a little to real. Civil rights movies are always hard to watch. It's disgusting to see our fellow humans act that way. Daniels isn't shy with showing us the ugly side of all of this, but he does sneak in some really sweet and affectionate scenes every now and then. The score at the end of the film was so spectacular I almost think it deserved a standing ovation.
 
Whitaker gives a fine performance, as does Oyelowo and Oprah Winfrey who plays his wife. This film is littered with cameos from Robin Williams, James Marsden, John Cusak, Liev Schriber, and Alan Rickman playing past Presidents. To Nelis Ellis playin Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. A great supporting cast featuring Lenny Kravitz, Elijah Kelley, Cuba Gooding Jr. The only bad part is we're subject to a few minutes of Terrence Howard and Alex Pettyfer.
 
Will this film be a big Oscar contender? Maybe. It definitely feels like one. I continue to be a big fan of Lee Daniels' work. I can't wait to see what he does next.
 
Recommended: Yes
 
Grade: B
 
Memorable Quote: "Don't use that word, it's a white man's word and full of hate."  
 


10 comments:

  1. Thats what I came away with its disgusting to see such wretchedness in the hearts of man.They tried to make it real.Im sure it could b oscar winning.

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    1. Sometimes it's just embarrassing to be a human being. Racist people are the worst. I agree, it seems to have Oscar potential, the only thing that could be working against it is the release date.

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  2. lol not a terrence howard fan? i actually had to look up who alex was. i can't remmeber if i've seen him before this movie. moving, for sure. daniels' best i've seen

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    1. I never thought Howard was that great to begin with, then I read this article and now I kind of loathe him: http://jezebel.com/287242/terrence-howard-thinks-women-are-unclean-and-dressed-like-whores

      Alex Pettyfer was in Magic Mike and I Am Number Four and he's fucking painful to watch.

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  3. Great review! It's definitely cameo heaven, esp. with Alan Rickman as Reagan, which I thought was inspired casting. I was impressed by Whitaker and Oleyowo but yeah, I cringed in the Howard and Pettyfer's scenes, but then again both roles are despicable.

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    1. The entire time I was watching Liev Schriber on screen, I kept thinking. "No, that can't be Schriber, it has to be someone that just looks like him." I IMDb'd that immediately after the film ended.

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  4. I liked it overall, but the film's tone felt too inconsistent to me. Still, it did have some powerful scenes and good performances.

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    1. I can see the inconsistence, definitely. I just kept being surprised over all the actors that were in this. I had no idea.

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  5. Good review Brittani. The ensemble did get a bit distracting at times, however, I still really liked the story and what Daniels had to say, even though it's been said a million times before. Except this time, it's a story of the Civil Rights movement, right from the viewpoint of African Americans, and not the common white-folk.

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    1. I noticed that was a big complaint when The Help was a nominated film at the Oscars.

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