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Lee Daniels' The Butler (2013)

The Butler (original title)
PG-13 | | Biography, Drama | 16 August 2013 (USA)
Trailer
2:02 | Trailer
As Cecil Gaines serves eight presidents during his tenure as a butler at the White House, the civil rights movement, Vietnam, and other major events affect this man's life, family, and American society.

Director:

Lee Daniels

Writers:

Danny Strong, Wil Haygood (article)
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Popularity
4,246 ( 173)
Nominated for 2 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 18 wins & 50 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Forest Whitaker ... Cecil Gaines
David Banner ... Earl Gaines
Michael Rainey Jr. ... Cecil Gaines (8)
LaJessie Smith ... Abraham
Mariah Carey ... Hattie Pearl
Alex Pettyfer ... Thomas Westfall
Vanessa Redgrave ... Annabeth Westfall
Aml Ameen ... Cecil Gaines (15)
Clarence Williams III ... Maynard
John P. Fertitta ... Mr. Jenkins (as John Fertitta)
Jim Gleason ... R.D. Warner
Oprah Winfrey ... Gloria Gaines
Isaac White ... Charlie Gaines (10)
David Oyelowo ... Louis Gaines
Joe Chrest ... White Usher
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Storyline

Cecil Gaines was a sharecropper's son who grew up in the 1920s as a domestic servant for the white family who casually destroyed his. Eventually striking out on his own, Cecil becomes a hotel valet of such efficiency and discreteness in the 1950s that he becomes a butler in the White House itself. There, Cecil would serve numerous US Presidents over the decades as a passive witness of history with the American Civil Rights Movement gaining momentum even as his family has troubles of its own. As his wife, Gloria, struggles with her addictions and his defiant eldest son, Louis, strives for a just world, Cecil must decide whether he should take action in his own way. Written by Kenneth Chisholm (kchishol@rogers.com)

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

One quiet voice can ignite a revolution

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some violence and disturbing images, language, sexual material, thematic elements and smoking | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

16 August 2013 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Lee Daniels' The Butler See more »

Filming Locations:

New Orleans, Louisiana, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$24,637,312, 18 August 2013

Gross USA:

$116,632,095

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$176,598,908
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Laura Ziskin's final film. She died of breast cancer on June 12, 2011 before it was completed. See more »

Goofs

In their 1957 discussion about Emmett Till, Gloria Gaines says his killing happened "three years ago." Till actually was killed in 1955, two years before. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Cecil Gaines: The only thing I ever knew was cotton. It was hard work.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in A Haunted House 2 (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

I'll Close My Eyes
Written by Billy Reid and Buddy Kaye
Performed by Dinah Washington
Courtesy of Verve Records
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
It could have been much better
19 August 2013 | by jackjack-2See all my reviews

Although the movie is based on a true story, a story that is very interesting, the producers couldn't leave it alone. Instead, they tampered with it so much that they made such an interesting story, uninteresting.

The only bright spot in the movie is Forest Whitaker. Given what he had to work with, he did a superb job of playing Eugene Allen. Allen was a humble man and Whitaker captures that humility. Originally, Denzel Washington was selected to play the part but it is unlikely that Washington, as good an actor as he is, could portray a humble man.

One of he big weaknesses in the film was the supporting cast. Oprah Winfrey was miscast as the butlers wife. That really distracted from Goines. Oprah came across as much too strong a personality as if the film was centered around her instead of Goines and her acting was mediocre. In real life, the story was about Allen, and not about his wife, but Oprah made the film as much about her as Allen. There are two explanations for writing the story to include Oprah. Either, the producers wanted her star power, or more likely, they needed her money to produce the film and had to cast her in the movie to get it.

Other than the strong performance by Whitaker, about the redeeming thing about the movie is that at least viewers are aware of the basic theme of the story, as fictionalized as it is, is that there was a butler of color that served eight presidents, was invited by one president to an official dinner, and got to see a man of color elected president. But we all could have learned that if it had been made a TV documentary rather than a crappy movie.


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