2013 / Director. Lee Daniels.
THE BUTLER is a turd of a movie. I went through 3 stages while watching it. At first I likened it to what FORREST GUMP might have been like if Robert Altman has been directing. Then further into it I started to think that it was more like one of those weird-ass Tyler Perry MADEA movies... and by the time to whole stupid thing came to an end I was convinced I was watching BIG MAMMA'S HOUSE 4. Where to begin? To be honest I can hardly be bothered writing anything at all... but for the sake of content... okay. It tells the life of Cecil Gaines, a black man born into slavery, who becomes a long-standing butler at the White House. During his employment he served 5 presidents from Eisenhower to Reagan. Over the course of 34 years he watched the black civil rights movement unfold while his own son became wrapped up in the cause. My first (and possibly biggest) gripe with THE BUTLER is that it proclaims to be based on a true story. Very little truth has found it's way into the movie. The real life personality was Eugene Allen and is actual story was nowhere near as tragic, tumultuous or heartwarming as is depicted in the film. I am not one to criticise creative liberties and artistic licence but surely bastardising a life and presenting it with such inaccurate historical significance is bogus. The movie is jam packed with big celebrity names like Robin Williams, Alan Rickman and Vanessa Redgrave... and there are some really odd inclusions from people like Lenny Kravitz, Jane Fonda and Mariah Carey... you can read the poster to see others but suffice to say that the casting feels more like Altman's PRET-A-PORTÈ. A really odd addition to the film is also John Cusack playing Richard Nixon... there is nothing about him that resembles Nixon whatsoever aside from his retarded put-on mumble-grumble voice... and that's where the movie felt more like a Tyler Perry show. And finally as the characters get older, their make up becomes more elaborate (for lack of better word) and the prosthetics begin to stretch... Forrest Whitaker almost snaps his rubber neck at one stage and we're supposed to just accept it. Fuck that! There are so many historical moments glazed over in the film and none of it feels important... and that's where it plays out more like Forrest Gump. But where THE BUTLER WAS successful was in it's ability to turn my warm and generous heart into a cold, black lump of stone! Bah-humbug.