This review was written last year after seeing this film, but is being published here for the first time in my new essay collection titled…"What a Piece of Garbage".
Lee Daniels "The Butler" is a ham fisted journey through American history that plays like a humorless black version of Forest Gump. It is completely devoid of any subtly, nuance or genuine human emotion or drama. As my dear friend Lady Penelope Pumpernickel-Dussledorf described it, it is like watching the senior class play at any suburban high school in America. All the senior class popular people are there, Oprah, Cuba Gooding Jr., Mariah Carey, Robin Williams, John Cusack and they put on costumes and make faces and pretend to feel things and then it's over and everyone stands and claps and tells them afterward how good it was. Except, in this case it wasn't good.
I will say this though, Forest Whitaker is a really fantastic actor and I've always enjoyed watching his work. It is a shame that he is wasted here in such a Hallmark network style piece of crap like this.
The only entertaining thing I have found associated with this film is watching Oprah go on television and talk about being a serious actress and her 'process'. Now that is some serious comedy. The best acting Oprah has ever done is when she's pretended to be an actress. Sorry, but playing dress up does not an actor make.
In conclusion, Lee Daniel's The Butler is not a good film. It is a shame that such a dramatically ripe and important story is told in such a flaccid and amateur way. I am glad Lee Daniels put his name in the title though, now we know who to blame.