7.2/10
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353 user 307 critic

Lee Daniels' The Butler (2013)

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

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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:

Lee Daniels

Writers:

Danny Strong, Wil Haygood (article)
Reviews
Popularity
3,209 ( 147)
Nominated for 2 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 18 wins & 50 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Forest Whitaker ... Cecil Gaines
David Banner ... Earl Gaines
Michael Rainey Jr. ... Cecil Gaines (8)
LaJessie Smith ... Abraham
Mariah Carey ... Hattie Pearl
Alex Pettyfer ... Thomas Westfall
Vanessa Redgrave ... Annabeth Westfall
Aml Ameen ... Cecil Gaines (15)
Clarence Williams III ... Maynard
John P. Fertitta ... Mr. Jenkins (as John Fertitta)
Jim Gleason ... R.D. Warner
Oprah Winfrey ... Gloria Gaines
Isaac White ... Charlie Gaines (10)
David Oyelowo ... Louis Gaines
Joe Chrest ... White Usher
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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 | Plot 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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

16 August 2013 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Lee Daniels' The Butler See more »

Filming Locations:

New Orleans, Louisiana, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$24,637,312, 18 August 2013, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$116,632,095

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$176,598,908
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Columbia Pictures put the film in turnaround in 2008. The Weinstein Company acquired the distribution rights in 2012. See more »

Goofs

During the Barack Obama campaign scenes on the porch, Cecil wears an "Organizing for America" T-shirt. "Organizing for America" was the post-inauguration Obama organization, started in 2009. During the 2008 campaign it was "Obama for America." See more »

Quotes

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

Referenced in Tosh.0: We Buy Golf (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Babalu
Written by Margarita Lecuona
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Ho-hum
17 August 2013 | by B24See all my reviews

A great and talented cast is largely thrown away on a script that starts and stops relentlessly. As one who has lived through all the historical periods portrayed, I was regrettably bored by large segments of the narrative, which seemed didactic in the extreme. That is not to diminish its important social and cultural significance to a younger audience, only that I personally found all the Presidents as played much smaller than in life than I remember them. Robin Williams as Eisenhower and Alan Rickman as Reagan seemed oddly miscast, though John Cusack as Nixon caught the essence of the man nicely. The parts showing home life among the main characters was a highlight, however.

In short, a good but not great film, perhaps better with fewer intrusive star-studded cameos and less overt moralizing.


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