16 August 2013 2:43 PM, PDT | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

A critical digest of the week’s latest U.S. theatrical releases. Where applicable, links to longer reviews have been provided.

Lee DanielsThe Butler

Distributor: The Weinstein Co.

The director of “Precious” and “The Paperboy” plays things relatively straight in “Lee DanielsThe Butler,” a sprawling, highly fictional biopic of longtime White House butler Eugene Allen that also positions itself as a panoramic snapshot of the African-American experience across nine decades. But if Daniels has tamped down the kinky sexuality and outre stylistic flourishes for his first PG-13 outing, his handprints can still be found in the film’s volatile mix of acting styles, gratuitous sentimentality cut with moments of real emotional power, and a tone that seesaws between serious social melodrama and outsized chitlin’-circuit theatrical. At its root the kind of starry, old-fashioned prestige pic the studios used to make, this stealthy late-summer release from the Weinstein Co. »


- Variety Staff

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