Lee Daniels' The Butler 2013 PG-13 CC

Amazon Instant Video

(1,837) IMDb 7.1/10
Available in HD
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Forest Whitaker leads an all-star cast as a White House butler who served eight presidents while the civil rights movement and other major events affect his life, family, and society.

Starring:
Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey
Runtime:
2 hours 13 minutes

Available in HD on supported devices.

Lee Daniels' The Butler

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Product Details

Genres Drama
Director Lee Daniels
Starring Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey
Supporting actors Michael Rainey Jr., LaJessie Smith, Mariah Carey, Alex Pettyfer, Vanessa Redgrave, Aml Ameen, Clarence Williams III, John P. Fertitta, Jim Gleason, Oprah Winfrey, Isaac White, David Oyelowo, Joe Chrest, Colman Domingo, Adriane Lenox, Terrence Howard, Tyson Ford, Cuba Gooding Jr.
Studio The Weinstein Company
MPAA rating PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly and download to 2 locations Details
Format Amazon Instant Video (streaming online video and digital download)

Customer Reviews

The movie tries to do way too much!
Christa Hillhouse
If you are interested in the civil rights movement and want to watch an interesting story of one man's life and struggles over his lifetime, this is a must see!
Elisa Ambrosini
It had great acting by Oprah Winfrey, Forest Whitaker and the actor who played the son.
Dorothy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

154 of 192 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Laurence Raw on November 20, 2013
Format: DVD
THE BUTLER is a film which, for all its sentimental tone, nonetheless addresses the fundamental issue of civil rights, and whether the reforms of the Sixties have actually had the desired effect. It centers on the life of Cecil Gaines (Forrest Whitaker), who grew up on a plantation but spent most of his career in service at the White House. To his son Louis (David Oyelowo), Cecil is nothing more than a representative of "Uncle Tom" culture, spending his life in willing thrall to the white man. On the other hand Cecil manages to provide for his family and carve out a career; it is only late on in his life, when President Ronald Reagan (Alan Rickman) offers him an opportunity to savor something that he has never previously experience, that he understands how little his masters have changed, ideologically speaking, since the days of racial segregation. This is the film's "aha-moment" - from then on Gaines devotes himself to the cause of equal rights. THE BUTLER brings out the ambiguities of the African American experience; how Gaines' life might be regarded as a form of "liberation," despite working for a succession of white Presidents; and how the Civil Rights cause (as symbolized by the Black Panther movement of the Sixties and Seventies) might not have necessarily aided the African American experience. The film contains a clutch of memorable performances: Oprah Winfrey is quite admirable as Gaines' wife Gloria, supported by Terrence Howard and Cuba Gooding Jr., in supporting roles. Whitaker is quite simply brilliant in the title role; he ages gracefully while always sustaining his self-respect. If he does not get Oscar-nominated for his performance, I'd be extremely surprised. A memorable cinematic experience.
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Format: DVD
Lee Daniels' The Butler is something of a mixed bag. Had it been made twenty years ago, it might have stood on more original ground, but in 2013 it has a highly derivative feel to it, like what you'd get if you crossed Backstairs at the White House (a TV-miniseries from the 1980's that related the real-life experiences of a mother and daughter who worked as maids at the White House over a period of fifty years, starting with the Taft administration and ending with the arrival of JFK) and Forrest Gump where the life of a fictional character seems to cross paths with all the notable figures of his day.

It is important to emphasize that in spite of the impression the promotions for The Butler give, this film is in fact fiction. It is supposedly based on the life of a real-life White House butler named Eugene Allen, but other than the fact that Forrest Whitaker's character - a butler named Cecil Gaines - works at the White House for over three decades - almost nothing that happens in the film had anything to do with Allen's actual life.

Besides Whitaker's stand-out performance, the supporting cast are quite good as well, from Oprah Winfrey as Gaines' much put-upon boozed-up wife to Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Lenny Kravitz as Cecil's fellow staffers and Terrence Howard as a somewhat too familiar neighbor. David Oyelowo does a creditable job as Cecil's elder son, Louis, who takes the audience through almost every aspect of the black civil rights' experience, from joining the Freedom Riders and participating in sit-in protests at segregated diners to the later Black Panther movement and later still into the rising of black candidates for political office.
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79 of 102 people found the following review helpful By Carol Joy MacNaught on January 19, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant Video Verified Purchase
I didn't like wasting my time on this fiction. It said based on a true story yet they gave him an extra son, had his father killed,and made his wife an adulterer and an alcohlic. This good man had the right to TRUTH about his life.
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100 of 131 people found the following review helpful By deedee2 on January 24, 2014
Format: DVD
I love biopics when they are truly biographical, and not mostly fiction in the many ways this movie is. Numerous reviews and articles have pointed out the many inaccuracies. The real Butler was born in Virginia, not Georgia; his parents never experienced the cotton-field scene shown in the movie, his son was no activist but rather worked as an investigator for the State Department. Reagan did invite the real butler to a state dinner, but Obama did not invite him to a private meeting at the White House, and so on.

Even so, one might be able to get past the overly fictionalized story but for two problems - some profoundly bad acting and some ponderously partisan political "messaging." Where are the Kennedy and Johnson who united against Eisenhower's civil rights act (the first since Reconstruction days) and had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the civil rights era? Not here. The obvious attempt to vilify Reagan - who by all accounts treated all people the same, be they butler or statesman, and who agitated for more of a role for African-Americans in Hollywood long before it was chic - is way over the top and takes much out of context.

Forest Whitaker and Cuba Gooding, Jr. are always great and their work in this film is no exception. The rest of the cast is hideously bad and/or ill-cast (if one wants to give them the benefit of the doubt.) This movie makes it clear that Winfrey's great acting in The Color Purple was a flash in the pan.

For a much better vision of life at the White House, try "Backstairs at the White House". It was much better done, had more meat to the stories and was far better acted.
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