The Butler

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Based on a 2008 Washington Post article, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, is a biography about a man who served in the White House for four decades. In 1957, at the beginning of the civil rights movement, an African American named Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker) takes a job at the White House as a butler. Cecil and his wife, Gloria (Oprah Winfrey) move to Washington from the deep south to begin a new life with their two sons. Cecil serves seven presidents through numerous historical events including the Watergate scandal, the Vietnam War and the assassinations of John F Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. While Cecil is working at the White House, his son Louis (David Oyelowo) is involved with the Black Panthers, the Freedom Riders, and a sit-in at an all white diner. Father and son go years without speaking because they differ on the way to fight prejudice in the country. Surprisingly, for a film about segregation, this film wasn’t too preachy and it flies by at a little over two hours. The script isn’t necessarily outstanding, but Forest Whitaker did make the main character come to life. The acting is good across the board with an all-star cast consisting of Mariah Carey, Vanessa Redgrave, Clarence Williams, III, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Lenny Kravitz, Robin Williams, John Cusack, Lieg Schreig and Jane Fonda. Unfortunately, with all of those stars none of them could look or sound like any of the seven presidents depicted in the movie. Another small problem is that a couple times director Lee Daniels tried too hard to evoke emotions instead of allowing it to arrive naturally. Lee Daniels does know how to make the audience connect with his characters – he was successful in doing so in his academy nominated film, Precious. This is an excellent movie for kids to learn about segregation in the schools. (Since this isn’t an action film they won’t watch it at home) I’m giving this exceptional film an A- rating.

This movie has been given a PG13 rating by the MPAA

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