As Cecil Gaines serves eight presidents during his tenure as a butler at the White House, the civil rights movement, Vietnam, and other major events affect this man's life, family, and American society.
Cecil Gaines was a sharecropper's son who grew up in the 1920s as a domestic servant for the white family who casually destroyed his. Eventually striking out on his own, Cecil becomes a hotel valet of such efficiency and discreteness in the 1950s that he becomes a butler in the White House itself. There, Cecil would serve numerous US Presidents over the decades as a passive witness of history with the American Civil Rights Movement gaining momentum even as his family has troubles of its own. As his wife, Gloria, struggles with her addictions and his defiant eldest son, Louis, strives for a just world, Cecil must decide whether he should take action in his own way. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I'd first like to say that Forest Whitaker is a brilliant actor. Had it not been for his artful presence and emotion, this would have been a flop. He deserves 10 stars; the film does not. I'd like to say first that this is not a biopic. There is no Cecil Gaines that worked at the White House. None. This story is loosely (very loosely) based on Eugene Allen who worked at the White House for 34 years. He was from Virginia, never worked in a field, never saw his mother violated nor his father murdered, and did not have a son killed in Vietnam. The film really painted this to be the truth and led patrons to believe it was.
Some of the most patently preposterous casting ever was seen in this film. James Marsden is the only one who even came remotely close. Robin Williams is a horrible Ike Eisenhower. He looks more like Harry Truman on Chemo. John Cusack is a ghastly Richard Nixon. The gross miscasting was very distracting and the cast members exhibited little chemistry. It was if I were watching a poorly edited TV drama in many places.
The civil rights story is fine but we've seen it a hundred times and this parroted many of the good movies already made about this movement. So much of it was clichéd. I would have rather seen a movie about Mr. Allen's interaction with the chief executives than a fictional story about blacks and whites, alcohol abuse, and Jim Crow.
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