*SPOILER ALERT*: Review of Lee Daniels' The Butler

Lee Daniels' The Butler (photo courtesy of the Lee Daniels' The Butler Facebook page)

Rating: PG-13 
132 mins


The movie,  Lee Daniel's The Butler takes its audience back through the history of black and white racial relations, The Vietnam war, and other significant events by stepping into the shoes of White House butler, Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker). Gaines served through 8 terms of United States presidents. The movie covers the time period from the 1920's until 2008. Gaines quickly learns (at a very young age) that whites have the upper hand. Instead of trying to beat them, he is taught to join by serving them. His traumatic experiences in the south lead him to want to start a better life for his family in the north. His "join them" mentality landed him a job working at the White House. Although Gaines attempted not to stir up any pot of politics, his son Louis Gaines (David Oyelowo) did the exact opposite.


 The movie Lee Daniel's The Butler is a must-see, especially for teenagers 13 years of age and up.I think this movie is great for teenagers and young adults to compare and contrast the condition of the country during the early and mid 1900's to the present.. The movie presents historical events like slavery and The Civil Rights Movement. Daniels presents these events to his audience as if they are living everything today.  The events of the sit-ins, Black Panther Party, Freedom Riders, and March on Washington are also included in the movie. Lee Daniel's The Butler includes a cast that was well chosen to tell the story of a man, who was almost forgotten. 

Daniels thoroughly highlights the difference between Cecil Gaines' political views and his son's. The struggles of Cecil Gaines' character and his son represent two sides of the same coin. Gaines was often viewed as a sell-out, trying to appease whites. While he was putting on white gloves to serve a white president, Louis was putting on black gloves to serve his community. I love the fact that Gaines' son attended a historically Black school where he was taught to strongly protest the injustices upon his race.

Forrest Whitaker's portrayal of the butler, Cecil Gaines was amazing. Whitaker transformed himself physically and mentally to portray the character. Every emotion that he felt, you felt. For example, when President John F. Kennedy (played by actor James Marsden) was killed, you felt Gaines pain through Whitaker. In my opinion, Whitaker was the perfect man for the role of Cecil Gaines. 

Moreover, this movie was filled with many well-known actors and actresses. I was very interested in seeing Oprah Winfrey's role in the movie. She plays Cecil Gaines' sassy and no-nonsense wife, Gloria. Winfrey plays the role well. For a minute, I forgot she was Oprah, and that's a hard task. Cuba Gooding Junior playes the head butler, Carter Wilson. He plays his role well, but it was very similar to the good guy roles that he played in movies like "Boys N the Hood" and "Jerry Maguire". He provided some much needed comic relief to the film. Terrence Howard also portrayed a similar role that he normally plays as the bad guy. He attempted to seduce Gloria. David Oyelowo (who played Cecil Gaines' son) gave a stellar performance. Robin Williams was charming on film as President Dwight D. Eisenhower. James Marsden portrayal of John F. Kennedy's charm and likeability was well delivered.

Furthermore, America's Next Top Model, Yaya DaCosta appears in the film as Louis Gaines' companion, Carol Hammie. Her inclusion in the film brings a newness to it. Actor Elijah Kelley (who plays Louis' younger brother) not only delivers the much needed comic relief to the film, but he also gives a good portrayal of a young man who needs to chose a road between his father and brother's destiny.

Lastly, Lee Daniel's The Butler takes you on a fantastic journey through history via Cecil Gaines who sees the struggles in the country through the White House. The inclusion of historical events, triumphs, and tragedies makes this movie a must-see for all, especially the younger generation. The cast of actors and actresses worked well to recreate a world in which segregation existed. This movie, along with some members of its cast is Oscar worthy!

Grade: A

Side Note: This movie is over 2 hours long. Make sure you have time to watch.  

Have you seen the movie "Lee Daniels' The Butler"? If so, what did you think of it? 

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