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Movie Review: Lee Daniels’ The Butler
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Adam Frazier   |  @   |  
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The Butler PosterLee Daniels’ The Butler
Director: Lee Daniels
Screenwriter: Danny Strong, Lee Daniels
Cast: Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Terrence Howard, David Oyelowo, Robin Williams, Alan Rickman, Jane Fonda, John Cusack
The Weinstein Company
Rated PG-13 | 113 Minutes
Release Date: August 16, 2013

Directed by Lee Daniels (Precious), The Butler stars Academy Award-winner Forest Whitaker as Cecil Gaines, a White House butler who serves eight U.S. presidents from 1952 to 1986. Over the course of 30 years, he witnesses — and becomes involved in — the political and social turmoil of the times.

Inspired by Wil Haygood‘s Washington Post article, Lee Daniels’ The Butler is based on the true story of White House butler Eugene Allen and his family, portrayed in the film by Oprah Winfrey, David Oyelowo, and Elijah Kelley. The film also stars Robin Williams as Dwight D. Eisenhower, James Marsden as John F. Kennedy, Liev Schreiber as Lyndon B. Johnson, John Cusack as Richard Nixon, and Alan Rickman as Ronald Reagan.

The Butler feels like a Greatest Hits of Best Picture winners like Driving Miss Daisy, Forrest Gump, and The King’s Speech that borrows bits and pieces from similar films like The Help and Lee Daniels’ own 2009 film, Precious. Sentimental, melodramatic, and just a tad heavy-handed, Lee Daniels’ The Butler is run-of-the-mill Oscar bait, a period piece biopic that takes the audience on a crash course through American history, focusing on an underdog who interacts with historical figures and lives through all the things we read about in Social Studies class.

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