"The Butler" Movie Review: 2 1/2 Stars
by Michael Phillips
The best scenes in "
The supporting cast of "The Butler" is being described by the
It's up to the steady and astute performance by
The director, along with screenwriter
Cast out on his own, Cecil soon finds himself up north and schooling himself in the ways of the hospitality industries. He is blessed and cursed with the ability to seem "invisible" while in the service of white folks. Working at a swank D.C. hotel bar, he gets his
Cecil has that Gumpian knack for just being there and, with a few utterances, re-routing the river of history. A word or two in Eisenhower's ear about segregation -- bam, two steps forward. A sentence or three spoken in the presence of JFK (
It takes a while, but Cecil himself finally becomes a stealth agitator, nudging his employers in the direction of better pay and an occasional shot at advancement. Whitaker is such a forceful presence, you wonder initially if he'll convince in such a recessive role. (In a Daniels film the women get all the juicy scenes and, usually, the exit zingers.) But he's first-rate in the part, such as it is. Cecil's conceived as a blinkered, virtually asexual man, preoccupied with appearances, unable to process who Louis has become.
"We're trying to change the nation's consciousness about the American Negro!" Louis lectures his father at one point, speaking like no actual revolutionary on Earth. It's too bad "The Butler" doesn't afford Whitaker the spacious acting opportunity that, say, "The Autobiography of Miss
"The Butler" Movie Trailer
A look at the life of Cecil Gaines who served eight presidents as the White House's head butler from 1952 to 1986, and had a unique front-row seat as political and racial history was made.
MPAA rating: PG-13 (for some violence and disturbing images, language, sexual material, thematic elements and smoking).
Running time: 2:12.
Credits: Directed by
Article: Copyright © 2013 Tribune Media Services, Inc.
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