7.2/10
93,733
333 user 305 critic

The Butler (2013)

PG-13 | | Biography, Drama | 16 August 2013 (USA)
Trailer
2:02 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

ON TV
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.

Director:

Writers:

, (article)
Reviews
Popularity
1,379 ( 941)
Nominated for 2 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 18 wins & 50 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Edit

Cast

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

Storyline

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

Taglines:

One quiet voice can ignite a revolution

Genres:

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:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

16 August 2013 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Lee Daniels' The Butler  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

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

Gross:

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

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Terrence Howard, Cuba Gooding Jr, David Oyelowo, and Elijah Kelly all previously worked together in Red Tails (2012). See more »

Goofs

During the dinner scene, Cecil claims that Sidney Poitier won the Academy Award in 1968 for In the Heat of the Night. That is not true. It was Rod Steiger who won the Academy Award for the same film. The film also won Best Picture. Poitier won the Award in 1964 for Lilies of the Field, so Cecil may have confused the two. See more »

Quotes

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

Connections

Features Barney Miller (1974) See more »

Soundtracks

Ain't That A Kick In The Head
Written by Sammy Cahn, Jimmy Van Heusen
Performed by Dean Martin
Courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc.
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Forest Whitaker As An Uninteresting, Overly Maudlin Forest Gump
11 August 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

You'll feel emotions throughout "Lee Daniel's The Butler," but you'd also cry if someone kicks a kitten on TV. Dropping in simplistic scenes of hardship and meager triumph does not a good film make. This is not a good film.

Technically, it's fine. And it's got a lot of stars. Some are hard to spot such as Vanessa Redgrave as a racist Southerner and Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan. But, it's overlong even though the story spans nearly nine decades. In all those years, very little actually seems to happen.

Nothing really happens with our hero, Forest Whitaker as White House butler Cecil Gaines. He does his job quietly. He has very little impact on those around him either at home or in the House. The film is named for this person. It would be nice if he was interesting.

The only real action comes from Cecil's son Earl Gaines (David Banner). Earl takes up the fight for civil rights. But, even he's mostly along for the ride, so while he's not substantial enough for his own movie, without him in this one, I probably would have fallen asleep.

And that's the thing. For all the dramatic tension offered by the subjects of fighting for civil rights in the South and working in the White House, this film is surprisingly boring. Sure, I got to see lots of cameos by famous actors as Presidents of the United States, yet even Robin Williams as Dwight Eisenhower did little to elevate my interest.

Like Forest Gump, the events of history pass by around Forest Whitaker's butler. He is alongside every president from Ike to Reagan. Unlike "Forest Gump," it's never that entertaining.

"Forest Gump" and "Lee Daniel's The Butler" also share a feeling that they take themselves to be significant films saying important things, but I am hard-pressed to say just what those things are. Putting powerful, historical events on screen is not the same as saying something insightful about them.


211 of 394 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?