If you’ve heard anything about The Butler, it was probably over the controversy of its name. The Weinstein Company, who own the rights to the film and were distributing it, had to change the name because Warner Bros. had a 1916 silent film nobody had heard of with the same name. Hence, “Lee Daniels‘ The Butler”. Is the movie as interesting as this story? Here’s my movie review of The Butler.
Through six administrations, a U.S. presidential butler gets a front row seat to the changing face of race relations in America. The problem is his son is actually a part of the show.
The original approach – for a topic regularly mined for stories, the approach from a White House butler and his family’s struggles was an interesting take on it. The contrast between the butler and his sun was a great story to tell.
The Acting – There is an actual parade of recognizable faces through this movie, from Robin Williams to Minka Kelly to Jane Fonda. Have to say Alan Rickman’s Ronald Reagan and Liev Shriebert’s Lyndon B. Johnson were highlights. Forest Whitakker was great and even Oprah Winfrey pulled it off.
The Script – the problem wasn’t the acting, it was the words coming out of their mouths. “I brought you into this world, I can take you out.” “You’ll lose your job. But I’ll lose you”. It felt far more Lifetime movie of the week than movie in the theatre.
The story – I really like besides the presidential angle, it didn’t give anything we hadn’t already seen before, many many times. Is it a story that needs to be told to make us aware of our terrible past? Yes. That doesn’t mean we can’t look for more compelling ways to do it.
What’s the Decision
2/5 stars. A fantastic movie of the week makes a mediocre movie that doesn’t bring much new to the table in telling the story of race relations in America.