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Lee Daniels' The Butler (I) (2013)
"The Butler" (original title)

PG-13  |   |  Biography, Drama  |  16 August 2013 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 80,589 users   Metascore: 66/100
Reviews: 313 user | 291 critic | 47 from Metacritic.com

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.



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Nominated for 2 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 16 wins & 47 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mr. Jenkins (as John Fertitta)
White Usher


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 (kchishol@rogers.com)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


One quiet voice can ignite a revolution


Biography | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some violence and disturbing images, language, sexual material, thematic elements and smoking | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

16 August 2013 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Lee Daniels' The Butler  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$24,637,312 (USA) (16 August 2013)


$116,631,310 (USA) (7 February 2014)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Robin Williams plays President Dwight D. Eisenhower. In the Night at the Museum (2006) fantasy movies he played a magically-brought-to-life portrait of President Theodore Roosevelt, and in Man of the Year (2006) he played a fictionalized President. See more »


In close-ups toward the end, Forest Whitaker's crisp white collar has brown make-up along the edges. See more »


[first lines]
Cecil Gaines: The only thing I ever knew was cotton. It was hard work.
See more »


Features Sanford and Son (1972) See more »


Piano Concerto in A Minor Op. 54-1
Written by Robert Schumann
Performed by The Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra
Conducted by Kenneth Klein; Gerald Robbins
Piano Courtesy of MSR Classics
By Arrangement with Fine Gold Music
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Very much clichéd, wonderful star power, but wasted.
2 September 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Being 60 and having lived through much of this time period, I'm sorry to say that I found the movie to be very simplistic and quite dull. Jackie K with the hat, Johnson on the toilet with the Beagles.

Of course we all know he had beagles and had no qualms about speaking to his people while on the toilet, but this movie seemed to just be filled with these clichés. There were also too many historical inaccuracies. I could start listing them, but what's the point. Jackie never called her husband John, he was Jack!

I found it very simplistic in it's approach to the racial issues, (which after-all is what the movie was about). These issues were far more complicated. Did the producers and writers believe us not bright enough to tell the stories on a more elevated level?

Unforgivable, no mention of Rosa Parks.

I'm afraid to believe that:

1 Was dumbed down purposely

2 This movie accurately shows the extreme failing of our educational system. Thus this movie had to be created on such a simple level.

One other complaint is that it in no way accurately showed the extreme fear we (black and white) felt as these national events unfolded.

My answer: Read some books. "Native Sun", "The autobiography of Malcolm X" etc etc. You'll learn a lot more of the times.

Gene M San Francisco

39 of 71 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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