‘The Butler’ Reviews: A Historical Drama Worth Sitting Through?

Sat, August 17, 2013 11:24am EDT by 26 Comments
The Butler Reviews
Courtesy of Follow Through Productions

The ambitious, topic-tackling historical drama, ‘The Butler’ finally hit theaters on August 16. But before you strap in to see the star-studded flick, find out if it’s worth the price of admission.

Not since Forrest Gump have we seen a movie so fervently take a look at the spectrum of American history like Lee Daniels’ The Butler (in theaters August 16). With Forest Whitaker (the fact that he’s named Forest has to be a coincidence) as a butler to seven presidents, the movie spans the 20th century and tackles heavy-hitting topics like the civil rights movement. It’s certainly an ambitious movie, but do the critics think it’s actually a good one?

‘The Butler’ Reviews

New York Times

Taking inspiration from an article by Wil Haygood in The Washington Post about the life of Eugene Allen, who worked as a butler in the White House during eight presidential administrations, Lee Daniels has told the story of the civil rights movement in the bold colors of costume pageantry and the muted tones of domestic drama. He also throws in a few bright splashes of crazy, over-the-top theatricality, in the form of outrageous period-appropriate outfits and startling celebrity cameos, as well as dabs of raucous comedy.

The Washington Post

Any movie that casts Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan certainly has a piquant sense of humor, but the prankishness of Lee Daniels’ The Butler — so named after a title dispute with the MPAA — undermines the serious statements this star-spangled film is striving to make about race, class and politics. Along with missing the movie’s ever-migrating point, viewers may be forgiven for wondering whether Lee Daniels’ The Butler might have been titled Lee Daniels’ Forrest Gump — its hero challenged morally rather than mentally, but watching history in Gumpian fashion, as a series of cameos viewed through a slightly clueless daze.

Los Angeles Times

Lee Daniels’ The Butler is neither as good as it might have been nor as bad as survivors of The Paperboy may have feared. An ambitious and overdue attempt to create a Hollywood-style epic around the experience of black Americans in general and the civil rights movement in particular, it undercuts itself by hitting its points squarely on the nose with a 9-pound hammer.

Rolling Stone

There’s no denying the stumbles that mar this alternately riveting and risible historical epic (big stars in bad makeup doing cameos as American presidents – yikes!). Yet Lee Daniels’ The Butler holds you, provokes you and ultimately moves you. It’s a huge task, trying to detail the battle between Uncle Tom-ism and radicalism that divided African-Americans during civil rights movements between 1957 and 1986. And to do it through one man, Cecil Gaines (a stellar Forest Whitaker), a White House butler who served seven presidents, defines risky.

New York Magazine

Lee Daniels’ The Butler is crudely ­powerful. You can object to the thuggish direction and the script that’s a series of signposts, but not the central idea, which is genuinely illuminating.

There you have it — The Butler’s ambitions may have been too grand, but you can still make something good while failing to make something great. So this era-spanning, Oscar-grabbing historical drama may be worth your time after all!

What do you think, HollywoodLifers? Will you see Lee Daniels’ The Butler? Let us know!

WATCH: ‘Lee Daniels’ The Butler’ Trailer

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– Andrew Gruttadaro

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PO

Posted at 11:47 PM on January 31, 2014  

The movie , overall, was very bad and silly–my opinion.

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Habibi

Posted at 3:15 AM on November 28, 2013  

I’ve beeing scouring the google for this details and just needed to thank you for the post. BTW, basically off topic, how can I get a duplicate of this theme? – Thanks

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dieta para adelgazar corriendo

Posted at 5:30 PM on November 22, 2013  

My family members every time say that I am killing my time here at net, except I know I am getting experience daily by reading such
nice articles or reviews.

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Maria

Posted at 10:55 AM on August 19, 2013  

Why not be more open-minded? You guys are saying no to even giving the movie a chance due to people who were cast or because you believe it leans a certain way. Why not go and watch it and see if you were wrong because for every possibility you are right there is a possibility you are wrong.

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noliberaleyes4me

Posted at 2:17 PM on August 19, 2013  

Have you EVER had a brother, sister, uncle, Dad, Mother or ANYONE else who served in the Military? Do you EVEN know what Jane Fonda TURNER did, and how she so liberally minded TURNED HER BACK on “regular,” yet THE GREATEST PEOPLE ON EARTH who were in Vietnam, FIGHTING A WAR in order to that ALL AMERICANS would again see PEACE? Stupid question, apparently NOT!!!

Open minded, my be — HIND!! That’s what has this country only a egg-shell thin core of what it once was. . . when we actually had leadership, integrity, values, morals, and on and on and on of NOTHING which looks like today’s America!!! This administration (based on liberal and socialist agenda(s) has “almost” completely ruined America!) We have very few, if ANY allies other than those who only “use” American “aid,” militarily . . . with the exception of Israel, whom we’ve virtually turned our backs on!!! GET A “real” lesson in HISTORY!!! PLZ . . . do yourself and other Americans a tremendous FAVOR!!! blah, blah, blah….

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noliberaleyes4me

Posted at 2:25 PM on August 19, 2013  

the proceeding post, by the way, was for Maria. . . sounds that perhaps you “may be” Latino, if so find yourself of “OLD” truthful, and RELIABLE “American History books,” and READ as much as possible . . . do not simply rely on ANY AMERICAN HISTORY books offered since William Jefferson Clinton, Albert Gore, and The Obamas have and are attempting to “re-write,” our TRUE HISTORY!!! That is merely INDOCTRINATION… sounds rather “German,” as in Hitler, but still is sadly TRUE!!! They are teaching common core all over the U.S. now which was engineered by Barack’s puppet MASTER, George Soros and the Saudi’s!!! “Really!” SERIOUSLY. . . . . . ALL OF OUR CHILDREN ARE “out,” we PRIVATE school them, and NOPE we are far from wealthy, just work EXTRA, extra OVERTIME and we each have second jobs to PAY for ours to actually get an EDUCATION!!

NO working nine to fivers, HERE!!!!

 
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Robyn Racine Roberts!

Posted at 4:36 PM on August 18, 2013  

I Liked The Women Better In The Movie, “THE HELP!” Where As The Men In The Butler Were Good, Oprah & Jane Fonda Did NOT Need To Be In The Movie! It Is So Easy To See 2 Phonies….ETC {Oprah & Jane}

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Sony1908

Posted at 1:12 PM on August 18, 2013  

Loved the movie. I have never seen the black experience in America so eloquently displayed in film as it was in The Butler. The movie was brilliantly written and very powerful. I highly recommend that everyone see this film. It’s eye opening, at times funny and very thought provoking. With the state of race relations in America today being what it is, the timing of this film is perfect.

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Chris

Posted at 11:36 AM on August 18, 2013  

This movie was excellent. It made u think , made me laugh, makes me want to have all these young black male that wasting their life to go see this movie. The person that did the make up for this movie did great job. I think everyone that see this movie will want to re- evaluate them selves as person. It is really a great movie would see it again.

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nina

Posted at 10:23 AM on August 18, 2013  

This movie is something I have no interest in seeing. I saw OPRAH “pitching” it and she seems to be on her racial bandwagon. WE get it OPRAH -we get it. This woman has become personally annoying. I am sure the history of this film is interesting but sorry if OPRAH has anything to do with it. NIX!

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Robyn Racine Roberts!

Posted at 4:23 PM on August 18, 2013  

Nina! I so Agree With You, As I Am An African American Woman & I’m SO SICK of that RICH SOW {Oprah}, Always Preaching About Race ETC! She Really Made Me Sick The Past 2 Weeks—Trying To Be The Center Of Attention World Wide For PR For Her Movie! And Hello Oprah, “Me Thinks Thou Protests WAAAAY To Much” About The Purse Incedent In Switzerland, About Racism Hitting Her {ETC| …..The Timing Was Too Close To The Movie’s Release, In Other Words, I Think QUEEN Oprah Made The Whole Story Up To Coincide With The Movie’s Opening, {For Free PR} Shame On You Oprah!

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Joe

Posted at 2:03 AM on August 18, 2013  

Will not see a movie with Hanoai Jane in the cast.

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Robyn Racine Roberts!

Posted at 4:26 PM on August 18, 2013  

LMAO~ It Was Weird For Them To Cast A Fascist Lib As The Lovely Nancy Reagan!

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eyonne

Posted at 11:57 PM on August 18, 2013  

Jane Fonda as Nancy Regan?………………….That’s like Sarah Palin ibeing cast as Pearl in the Janis Joplin Story and Michelle Malkin as Wendy O!

 
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J Littleton

Posted at 11:49 PM on August 17, 2013  

I wouldn’t see this piece of liberal propaganda if it was free and came with a burger and a beer.

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david

Posted at 11:04 PM on August 17, 2013  

We just came from the movie theater and we loved the movie. The theater was 3/4 full and we clapped at the end. The show was very well done and I would recommend it to everyone..

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Vietnam Vet

Posted at 9:00 PM on August 17, 2013  

I will not watch it because Hanoi Jane Fonda plays the part of a real lady. That is a blatant insult to every Vietnam Veteran. I fully intend to demonstrate in front of my local theaters with a sign stating exactly the traitor she is.

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bpolk

Posted at 10:38 PM on August 17, 2013  

Get over it. We live the United States of America. Jane Honda has not done anything to you.. IF anything she has made you life better. See how you can freely express your viewpoint. Whats the difference.

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J Littleton

Posted at 11:47 PM on August 17, 2013  

How exactly has Jane Fonda made my life better? You think she is responsible for free speech? You sir, are an idiot.

 
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Joe

Posted at 2:08 AM on August 18, 2013  

WOW! What a fool you are. How’s that for free speech. The commies she supported don’t allow free speech. Maybe you and her ought to move there.

 
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Robyn Racine Roberts!

Posted at 4:28 PM on August 18, 2013  

Janie Is A Fascist Lib!

 
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kelly

Posted at 11:20 PM on August 17, 2013  

I totally agree with you. The movie looked interesting until I saw she was in it. Thank you for never forgetting.

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Joe

Posted at 2:04 AM on August 18, 2013  

Semper Paratus brother.

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abe

Posted at 11:28 AM on August 17, 2013  

just try it: THE BLACK SOCIETY IS IN IT!!

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