User Score
6.7

Generally favorable reviews- based on 173 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 23 out of 173
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  1. Nov 17, 2013
    3
    Interminable plod through America's civil war movement seen through the experiences of a Butler serving several presidents over many years in the White House. The film cannot escape the feeling of being fake, trivialised and manufactured in its self important telling of an awful chapter in American History. It also feels very second hand with key events mostly being depicted via archiveInterminable plod through America's civil war movement seen through the experiences of a Butler serving several presidents over many years in the White House. The film cannot escape the feeling of being fake, trivialised and manufactured in its self important telling of an awful chapter in American History. It also feels very second hand with key events mostly being depicted via archive footage, mainly on a TV screen. Also, as soon as anything bad or dramatic happens the obligatory music kicks in for added impact often with that reliable crutch, the gospel choir at hand. This has the effect of producing schmaltz rather than gravitas.
    A starry cast, generally playing presidents or first ladies to mixed success, give a cough and a spit and are gone. However, anyone expecting (as I did) for this to be a more serious expose of White house politics will be sorely disappointed. This is first and foremost about the Butler and his family. The film has a lot to say potentially, but ultimately, due to the story's priorities very little is actually said. Forrest Whittaker and Oprah Winfrey are undeniably good, but this is Oscar bait work to be sure. For a really natural and un self conscious performance just watch the far superior Lupita Nyong'O in the artistically much better 12 years a slave. No grand standing here, just great work! On the technical side the film is nothing special. The cinematography at times has a grainy look to it and it's definitely far too long. By the film's close I felt that I had aged with the two leads and lived the history.
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  2. Tac
    Aug 18, 2013
    1
    Predictable message movie. Save your money and watch it at home so you can fast forward through the boring parts. Oprah is better as a talk show host.
    Wierd casting choices aside from Forrest Whitaker who was good.
  3. Aug 22, 2013
    1
    Aside from casting Jane Fonda as Mrs. Reagan, this movie failed to show the greater struggle over adversity. Perhaps, this is because it was a quick-moving period piece. Oftentimes, the misplaced humor downplayed the next scene which may have been tragic and/or historic. Scenes where occasionally confusing due to a jump in time and reference point.. The storyline contributed to theAside from casting Jane Fonda as Mrs. Reagan, this movie failed to show the greater struggle over adversity. Perhaps, this is because it was a quick-moving period piece. Oftentimes, the misplaced humor downplayed the next scene which may have been tragic and/or historic. Scenes where occasionally confusing due to a jump in time and reference point.. The storyline contributed to the movie's disappointment; that is-it wasn't a story about an employee in the White House, but the story of that employee's personal life. This movie reminded me of a Hallmark special. Expand
  4. Oct 1, 2013
    1
    This movie is well done and Forest Whitaker gives a great performance, but I'm giving it a 1 because it just undeniably racist. Okay reference Obama great that's cool, first black president is a big deal I understand that. When you say that Reagan, one of the greatest presidents ever, was a racist...that pisses me off. There is no reason to have put that in the story. It's wrong andThis movie is well done and Forest Whitaker gives a great performance, but I'm giving it a 1 because it just undeniably racist. Okay reference Obama great that's cool, first black president is a big deal I understand that. When you say that Reagan, one of the greatest presidents ever, was a racist...that pisses me off. There is no reason to have put that in the story. It's wrong and frankly just a low, pointless act of racism. White people can't do anything about it though but just wow, based a true story? Right, this is why racism still exists. Expand
  5. Jun 26, 2015
    0
    I'm giving this movie the lowest rating because of JANE FONDA... What she did in Vietnam makes her a traitor in my opinion, consequently anything she is associated with, is not on my list of things to do... i. e. watch this movie... I 'm the movie is great, but you made a poor choice in one of your actors in my opinion.
Metascore
66

Generally favorable reviews - based on 47 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 30 out of 47
  2. Negative: 0 out of 47
  1. Reviewed by: Jenny McCartney
    Nov 20, 2013
    80
    The Butler might bite off more history than it can chew, but it packs a sustained emotional punch, more than a pinch of wit, and a superb performance from Whitaker as a man burning with passion beneath his immaculate, repressed exterior.
  2. Reviewed by: Trevor Johnston
    Nov 12, 2013
    60
    The result isn’t as powerful as it should be. But it’s still cheering to see a film whose moral journey has little to do with the usual Hollywood chestnut of white middle-class consciousness-raising.
  3. Reviewed by: Simon Braund
    Nov 11, 2013
    60
    Manipulative and preachy, The Butler is redeemed by a sensitive performance from Forest Whitaker and the undeniable power of the events it depicts.