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Generally favorable reviews - based on 47 Critics What's this?

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6.7

Generally favorable reviews- based on 170 Ratings

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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 30 out of 47
  2. Negative: 0 out of 47
  1. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Aug 15, 2013
    100
    A brilliantly truthful film on a subject that is usually shrouded in wishful thinking, mythmongering and outright denial.
  2. Reviewed by: Chris Nashawaty
    Aug 7, 2013
    83
    As Cecil, Whitaker is mesmerizing. The actor seems to shrink into his imposing frame, summoning a performance of quiet, bottled-up force.
  3. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Aug 19, 2013
    75
    With The Butler, director Lee Daniels has managed to "Gump" the Civil Rights movement. That's not necessarily a bad thing but there are times when so many famous cameos threaten to become a distraction, especially since they're only tangentially germane to the main story.
  4. Reviewed by: Laremy Legel
    Aug 13, 2013
    64
    Full of truth that's ultimately diluted by a lack of focus.
  5. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    Aug 14, 2013
    63
    Although director Lee Daniels dials things down a bit here, subtlety is not what he does. That strategy worked for “Precious’’ but turned his more recent “The Paperboy’’ into a feature-length howler.
  6. Reviewed by: David Denby
    Aug 19, 2013
    60
    The Butler is a lightweight, didactic movie, a kind of well-produced high-school entertainment.
  7. Reviewed by: Katy Rich
    Aug 9, 2013
    40
    A great film about the American civil rights movement is way overdue. The Butler, overwhelmed by flash and good intentions, doesn't even come close.

See all 47 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 38 out of 54
  2. Negative: 5 out of 54
  1. Aug 30, 2013
    10
    What a great movie! Great acting, writing and directing. I haven't seen a movie that I couldn't take my eyes off in a long time. This movie isWhat a great movie! Great acting, writing and directing. I haven't seen a movie that I couldn't take my eyes off in a long time. This movie is worth an Oscar. Cecil is a great actor. He is a great storyteller. I appreciate great work he put in the movie. It made me cry to learn what these people went through and it made me feel grateful for the way it is now. It shows you that America is becoming the best country now. Let's be grateful that all the people in this past made this change happen. All hate and segregation.. The people in the past changed that and made America into one. Overall, it is a masterpiece movie that I will always remember in my heart. Expand
  2. Apr 26, 2014
    10
    I somehow was unable to see this movie while it was in the local cinema. I bought home from Red Box and watched it with my 94 year whiteI somehow was unable to see this movie while it was in the local cinema. I bought home from Red Box and watched it with my 94 year white southern mother. We both enjoyed the film immensely. There is so many films that are such a waste of time and money, this is not one of those. The film does a brilliant job in the time allotted of showing the continuum of historic events that "The Butler" live through with his family. Expand
  3. Sep 12, 2013
    9
    I really liked this movie... It was well acted and had a great story attached to it. It was, however, sad to see such a self absorbed societyI really liked this movie... It was well acted and had a great story attached to it. It was, however, sad to see such a self absorbed society that treated people so poorly. I must say that I find it inspirational how this man lifted himself above the reproach of such a cruel society. I was impressed with his moral out look and his tenacity to stay focused on importance of job and family even though he had to fight through much racism. This is a great movie. Expand
  4. Aug 17, 2013
    8
    Though some of the casting choices seemed odd (John Cusack as Richard Nixon???), the principals of the film were in fine form. Forest WhitakerThough some of the casting choices seemed odd (John Cusack as Richard Nixon???), the principals of the film were in fine form. Forest Whitaker stars as the man who served as a White House butler during eight administrations, quietly watching the Civil Rights movement unfold. For me, however, the real standouts though were Oprah Winfrey (his wife), Terrence Howard (his neighbor), David Oyelowo (his oldest son) and Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan.

    For the first half of the film, I was entranced by the scenes involving the fight for civil rights, but didn't embrace the central characters (mostly Whitaker) like I wanted to, BUT the last 45 minutes packed a punch that took me by surprise. Some amazing scenes close out this film, elevating it from "good" to "very good". History, politics, great acting and a "mute" Mariah Carey make this a must-see film. ***1/2 (out of 4)
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  5. Nov 24, 2013
    6
    This is a moving chronicle of a semi-fictionalized White House butler as seen through the civil rights movement. It has a fantastic montageThis is a moving chronicle of a semi-fictionalized White House butler as seen through the civil rights movement. It has a fantastic montage (or maybe more like a series of intercut scenes) of the black staff at the White House and the Freedom Riders in Alabama. It was one of the more amazing intercut sequences I've seen. I teared up twice during this movie. Whitaker is great.

    This movie is also an over-the-top melodrama. It is so melodramatic that, even given the subject matter, I'm calling it melodramatic.

    So I think a 6 is about right.

    The movie is a biopic/history series of events, with a few threads tying it together. But given the subject matter, I can't really fault it for not having a more traditional structure or conventional dramatic arc. If you're interested in the premise, go see it.
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  6. Sep 2, 2013
    5
    Somewhat enjoyable film. Just Oprah needs to get the facts straight. If Hollywood could come up with a historical movie and actually get allSomewhat enjoyable film. Just Oprah needs to get the facts straight. If Hollywood could come up with a historical movie and actually get all the facts right I would give that movie a 10 even if it were not the most entertaining movie ever made. This revisionist history lesson is one step over Forrest Gump in accuracy. Of course it has to end with Oprah's little baby she helped create called Obama. I am surprised he did not make a cameo with all the free press. That with the butler having retired during the Reagan years. Oh and of course lets knock Reagan too in the movie because all white people in the film are reduced to a level of the Jefferson's neighbor in a 70's sitcom. Collapse
  7. 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, consequentlyI'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. Expand

See all 54 User Reviews

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