Online Film Critics Society

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Reviews: Lee Daniels' The Butler (2013)

butlerReviews for this film from our members:

  • Marco Albanese @ Stanze di Cinema [Italian]
    • Excerpt: Forest Whitaker spreca il suo talento, in un cast messo in difficoltà dalla sceneggiatura di Danny Strong. Da dimenticare in fretta.
  • [New – 4/3/14] | Dragan Antulov @ Draxblog VI [Croatian]
  • [New – 4/3/14] | Rick Aragon @ Rick’s Cafe Texan
    • Excerpt: Lee Daniels’ The Butler is a respectable effort to chronicle the Twentieth Century African-American experience from Emmitt Till’s brutal murder to Barack Obama’s ascendency to the White House. I don’t fault the noble intentions, but what I saw was a film that was telling two stories and could never quite find a way to get both of them together.
  • Luke Bonanno @
    • Excerpt: It’s not a good enough film to deserve artistic license and the license it takes seems to hurt more than help.
  • Tim Brayton @ Antagony & Ecstasy
    • Excerpt: A film with its heart very clearly in the right place, and its imagination left behind in a locked root cellar.
  • Enrique Buchichio @ [Spanish]
    • Excerpt: Todo es un compendio de lugares comunes, tanto dentro como fuera de la Casa Blanca. Quedan solo momentos, breves momentos. Y la convicción de que el director Lee Daniels (Precious) ha desperdiciado a un elenco estupendo.
  • Laura Clifford @ Reeling Reviews
    • Excerpt: The film certainly works in part (Oprah’s just terrific as Gaines’ wife), but if two previous Pennsylvania Avenue films this year were dubbed “Die Hard in the White House,” this one’s destined to be remembered as “Forrest Gump in the White House.”
  • Edwin Davies @ A Mighty Fine Blog
    • Excerpt: [The Butler] is, ultimately, an important film, though less through its own merits than its unfortunate rarity as a mainstream American movie about the black experience in the 20th century. Maybe the real lesson of The Butler as a film is that, at a certain point, you just have to be happy with what you can get, which is unfortunate, since that’s the exact opposite message that the story is trying to convey.
  • Tony Dayoub @ Cinema Viewfinder
    • Excerpt: …Whitaker’s part may be the most thankless. He basically plays a smarter, even further marginalized witness to history than Forrest Gump.
  • Carlos del Río @ El rincón de Carlos del Río [Spanish]
    • Excerpt: El principal problema que le veo a esta película, aparte de ser excesivamente ambiciosa, es que no tiene nada claro su núcleo emocional, y no hace más que irse por las ramas: “El mayordomo” recorre 80 años de la historia de Estados Unidos, y el resultado se podría decir que son viñetas independientes con algunos puntos de unión.
  • Jim Dixon @
    • Excerpt: “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” is an engrossing and absorbing story about the civil rights struggle as seen through the eyes of an African American butler (Forest Whitaker) who served under 7 presidents. It’s also very heavily fictionalized, which doesn’t make it any less compelling, but bear in mind that the words “inspired by a true story” do not mean that you’re watching a “true story.”
  • Mark Dujsik @ Mark Reviews Movies
    • Excerpt: [E]ventually, the intentions of Lee Daniels’ The Butler are overpowered by [the coincidences] and the heavy-handed way they serve as bridge through history.
  • Candice Frederick @ Reel Talk
  • Susan Granger @
    • Excerpt: Ambitious and affecting, it’s a challenging, haunting, historical epic, hoping to follow the success of the similar, late-summer 2011 release ‘The Help.’
  • Mark Hobin @ Fast Film Reviews
    • Excerpt: It’s certainly well executed by Forest Whitaker. While the drama can be simplistic, there’s a dignity to his character. It’s his portrayal that raises this material into something rather unexpected and at times extraordinary.
  • Blake Howard @ Graffiti with Punctuation
    • Excerpt: Braveheart’s narration put it best when it said that, “history is written by those who have hanged heroes.” Gaines was sandwiched between history at work and endured history on the home-front and therefore that vice should and could have resulted in a masterpiece. The Butler burned like phosphorus early but fizzled towards a heavy handed conclusion and ‘message’ that lands with the finesse of a sledge hammer.
  • Jeremy Kibler @ The Artful Critic
    • Excerpt: Historical Freedom: “Butler” heavy-handed but moving and terrifically well-acted
  • Benjamin Kramer @ The Voracious Filmgoer
  • James Madden @ Film Blerg
  • Pat Mullen @ Cinemablographer
    • Excerpt: The Butler is a flawed dramatization of history, but an undeniably worthwhile one at that.
  • John Nesbit @ Old School Reviews
    • Excerpt: Instead of rolling out historical content like a mighty stream, it only trickles weakly.
  • Jason Pirodsky @
    • Excerpt: The Butler was not the film I wanted it to be – an insightful look inside the White House over the years from the butler’s point of view – nor is it a particularly profound or original overview of Civil Rights-era America.
  • Nuno Reis @ Antestreia [Portuguese]
    • Excerpt: É um projecto curioso que se vê bem e que serve de súmula para quem precisa de um incentivo antes de ir estudar o século XX estado-unidense. Nem mais nem menos do que isso.
  • Jonathan Richards @
    • Excerpt: At times overblown and unwieldy, an occupational hazard for a movie that covers 80 years of the civil rights movement in America, this is still a major accomplishment.
  • Tom Santilli @
    • Excerpt: The Butler is perhaps the best and most complete movie ever made about the Black experience in America.
  • Amir Siregar @ Flick Magazine [Indonesian]
  • Josh Spiegel @ Sound on Sight
  • Frank Swietek @ One Guys Opinion
    • Excerpt: Obviously a labor of love for all concerned [but] manipulative, melodramatic and rather simplistic.
  • Andrew Wyatt @ Look/Listen (St. Louis Magazine)
    • Excerpt: The performances are ultimately what salvage The Butler from its prosaic beats and drab formal character.
Updated: July 10, 2015 — 10:56 am

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